Imported trees failed to check Iloilo flooding, says hydrologist
by ES Subong
Iloilo City (21 July) -- Engr. Nilo Jardeleza of the Western Institute of Technology (WIT) said both the academe and the concerned agencies must admit that some shift in perspective and knowledge in the efforts for environmental rehabilitation should be anchored on correct reforestation and sound land use.
Engr. Jardeleza gave an analysis of the flooding situation during the wake of Typhoon Frank where he said that reforestation efforts may have improved the watershed areas but the forest cover was not thick enough to prevent erosion.
"The trees in the areas reforested did not have main roots or undergrowth. Reason for this is that they were imported trees, not fitted for reforestation in that area. We may have plenty of trees planted, but we only had a tree plantation, not a forest cover," Jardeleza said.
He said that without undergrowth, the trees did not have protection from the ground, hence, run off was high, as what happened during typhoon Frank where uprooted trees were strewn anywhere the flooded watershed areas.
On the other hand, Jardeleza also said that sound land use planning can mitigate impact of big floods like that brought by typhoon Frank.
He admitted that errors have been committed as many flood prone areas have been converted into residential subdivisions which have been constricting the natural flow of water.
He cited land use data in Iloilo, which indicated that to date, about 57.35 percent is used for residential, 4.37 percent agricultural, 8.21 percent commercial, 3.36 percent industrial and about 26.81 percent for other purposes.
Even free zones, where no structures are supposed to be erected, have been set aside for many uses and this has made the situation vulnerable to calamities, like heavy flooding, which will still be recurring every now and then, for no one can prevent flood.
Jardeleza further admitted that people like him, and all other development planners, should learn lessons on urban planning through the experience brought about by typhoon Frank, and these will be spring board for closer deliberations.
He said that the Iloilo Flood Control Project may not prevent flood, but at least, when completed, can mitigate impact. (PIA 6) [top]