5,000 hectares of palm oil ecosystems madness

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By Dr. Bob Ocio

Isyo ug Servicio

Thursday, February 20, 2014

DID Moreno give up 1,500 hectares of public lands for a private palm oil plantation in Cagayan de Oro?

Did Moreno give up 1,500 hectares of public lands for a private palm oil plantation in Cagayan de Oro?

Did Moreno give up 1,500 hectares of public lands for a private palm oil plantation in Cagayan de Oro? A Brown Energy and Resources Development Inc. on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding with the city government of Cagayan de Oro led by Mayor Oscar Moreno during an event at Intercontinental Hotel Manila in Makati City.


Effect on the ecosystems, food security and sustainability of palm oil plantations

Cagayan de Oro's mountains, hills and forests reserves are dry, denuded and damaged and will need restoration to prevent floods, produce food, build homes, build water catchment systems and improve wildlife. Instead, Mayor Oscar Moreno has been reported to have given up 1,500 hectares of land and offered 5,000 hectares more for industrial agricultural development to big businessmen instead of our own farmer and displaced people.

It should be a matter of choice between the businessmen and the people. Our people need access to lands, capital and technology with the help of the government. Are they going to be perpetually crumpled in congested shanties and dangerous and filthy slums? And so don’t blame them if you have garbage, crime and social problems everywhere.

“Everything in an ecosystem is connected. Picture it as if each species is a “cog” in the “ecosystem machine.” We are currently pulling out thousands of cogs each year from the ecosystem machine of Borneo and Sumatra. Species like the orangutan are keystone species, meaning that if their cog is removed from the system, many, many other cogs will stop functioning as well.

For example, as mentioned above, many tree species can only germinate once passed through the gut of an orangutan; so if the orangutan is removed from the ecosystem, so are those tree species. And there may be many bird, insect or monkey species that rely on those trees as a main food source, so those cogs will also be removed from the system.

Therefore, the 'ecosystem machine' of Borneo and Sumatra will become so disconnected it will eventually become non-existent. This will have catastrophic impacts on other ecosystems belonging to other regions of the world. This will in turn upset the climate, change global weather patterns and increase the chances of natural disasters.” – No to Palm Oil in Borneo and Sumatra

Ours in Cagayan de Oro is worse. We have been frequently visited by floods and flooding and the trend shall continue because the Oro water basin has already been emptied of its adjoining forests reserves in Bukidnon, Lanao and Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro itself due to unabated logging, mining and massive industrial agriculture leaving only less than 5 per cent of its forests and landscape to capture the water to prevent floods and practically almost nothing for sustainable eco-agricutural systems restoration, preservation and development.

On transparency and public accountability

Moreno must disclose before the public and the city council the details of this reported "signed MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING in a private-public sector investment with A Brown Company opening up some 1,500 hectares of land in Cagayan de Oro recently and at least 5,000 hectares of raw land for development by interested investors."

He cannot do it legally on his own because the lands are not his personal property and we do not know what is contained in that contract, He should have opened the matter to the public for discussion and consultation and the City Council because that land is not for him alone to decide. This could be the biggest land grab ever in the city for a multibillion company at the prejudice of the people and marginal settlers and the ecological balance in the city.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 20, 2014.


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