EFFECT OF NATURE AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHANGES ON COASTAL AND UPLAND ECOSYSTEM IN SAN MIGUEL ISLAND, ALBAY, PHILIPPINES

Plutomeo M Nieves, Raul Bradecina

Abstract


A participatory assessment involving households from various sectors was undertaken to describe the effect of nature and socio-economic changes on coastal and upland ecosystem in San Miguel Island; Albay, Philippines. Multi-stakeholders processes (MSP) tools such as HH survey, KI interview, historical timeline, and focus group discussion (FGD) was used in the study.
Survey result demonstrates the interconnected effect of nature and socio-economic conditions on the coastal and upland ecosystem changes. When nature works negatively, it can severely affect the ecosystem and the socio-economic well-being of the people who depend on it. For instance, typhoon can wipe out gains from years of trying to reduce poverty, loss of lives and damages to property and environment. It destroys almost everything from coastal settlements, infrastructure, livelihood and livelihood assets including shoreline morphology, coastal bathymetry and near shore marine environment.
The effect of nature on the island’s ecosystem is noticeable in the landscape and farming system. The occurrence of climate-related disaster threatens the capacity of the environment to provide food and livelihoods. In coastal areas, siltation and sedimentation severely affect critical habitats at varying degree with major implications in agricultural productivity, fish catch and human settlement.
On the other hand, the effects of socio-economic changes on the ecosystem can be traced back in 1800’s where the agro-ecological changes started from abundance to agriculture until production diminishes and new areas explored. Farming started with “kaingin system” to plantation-base farming. Today, farming is characterized by permanent, diversified and specialized cropping pattern dominated by agro-forestry, root crops, corn and rice.
In summary, nature together with socio-economic pressures have shaped and transformed the island’s ecosystem it into what it is today. Reducing poverty and increasing resilience of the people is urgently needed. It is therefore recommended that LGUs invest in manpower, resources and facilities to climate change adaptation, natural resource management (NRM) and disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) in their policy and development agenda.

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Bicol University
Research and Development Center
Legazpi City