Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction: Applying Rainforestation to mitigate landslides in Leyte Island, Philippines
The Philippines is a biodiverse archipelagic country located on the Ring of Fire. Facing the Pacific Ocean, it gets hit by an average of 20 typhoons per year. Further, Leyte Island lies on a fault line, putting it at high risk of earthquakes. Land use change, exacerbated by a growing population, has led to a decline in the natural forest cover. This decline has increased the susceptibility to natural disasters and has made the community extremely vulnerable. Three decades old, the “Rainforestation” technology mimics the structure of old-growth forests using native species such as Ptersianthus quadrialatus, Pterocarpus indicus, Vitex parviflora and dipterocarp species such as Shorea contorta and Hopea malibato, These are more suited to the local climate in comparison to fast-growing exotics such as Gmelina arborea and Swietenia macrophylla. The indigenous species have deep root systems that anchor the soil, stabilizing the ground and generating a sponge effect that allows water drainage. “Rainforestation” aids in mitigating landslides and is also beneficial for providing ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, watershed rehabilitation, and livelihood enhancement. Spreading knowledge about Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR) is crucial in building resilience. Applying principles of Forest landscape restoration will protect future generations, especially in light of the unprecedented challenges we face due to climate change.