By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
April 22 is Earth Day. Internationally, various activities are slated on this day, with a common call to save Mother Earth.
Environmentalists worldwide call on their governments to observe international instruments that aim at the protection of Mother Earth. Among the instruments were those that were forged as a result of the Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in the early 1990’s.
Among the focus of the campaigns every Earth Day is the deteriorating forest cover. Deforestation has threatened the earth’s biodiversity, which will cause massive species decline and extinctions. Southeast Asia, for example, was declared in red alert due to the loss of its rich biodiversity.
Human activities which include trade – like logging and mining – are traced to be the reasons for the decline of biodiversity. And they claim that governments failed to strengthen efforts to protect the environment. Hence, environmentalists call for intensified environmental conservation.
Interestingly, Asia, which is composed mostly of third world countries, has reportedly over 48 percent forest cover, which is way above the standard 40 percent.
The rest of the world, including the industrialized regions of Europe and North America, has 30 percent forest cover. Environmentalists and economists theorize that the raw material needs of their advanced industrialization led to the fast deterioration of their forest covers and even of their depletable resources.
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Environmental conservation is a practice that has been observed since time immemorial by indigenous peoples.
Researches show that indigenous communities have vast forest cover due to their indigenous forest management. Also, they have been fighting against conduit state and corporate interests, coupled by militarization.
These have been commonly experienced by indigenous peoples worldwide, in Asia, and specifically in the Cordillera region of our country.
Cordillera communities have various indigenous forest management systems – traditional practices that had been recognized by the government.
In fact, the whole Cordillera is the watershed of Northern Luzon, where 13 major rivers are the water source for agricultural lands in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, and even Central Luzon.
Despite its strategic role, the region has been treated by the Philippine government – since its establishment by colonialists – as its resource base.
Presently, from its 1,821,691 hectares total land area, 1,111,995.4351 hectares has been applied for mining at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau regional office.
The Kalingas, Bontoks, and Tingguians, who like the Cordillerans’ ancestors, defended themselves against threats to their homeland.
The Cordillera peoples renew their unity in the yearly Cordillera Day activity. The decentralized celebrations this year, with venues in every province, have a common goal of renewing commitments for the defense of their homeland.
This principle of collective defense has made the Cordillera experience, particularly the movement against the World Bank-funded Chico River dams, a source of valuable lessons to the world, showing how a united people can win a struggle against state-sanctioned corporate exploitation. # nordis.net