MAJOR PHILIPPINE LAKE THREATENED BY ILLEGAL LOGGING & POLLUTION: Continued log poaching, kaingin causing slow deterioration of Lake Mainit

Continued timber poaching or log smuggling, unabated cutting of trees and kaingin within watershed areas of Lake Mainit is slowly causing Mindanao's second biggest lake and the country's fourth largest to deteriorate.

Mindanao's largest lake is Lake Lanao which is the source of hydroelectric power for Agus I to IV, situated in Lanao del Norte and Iligan City, the source of electricity in almost all parts of Mindanao. Lake Lanao or Ranaw ranks second to Laguna Lake, the country's biggest lake. Taal lake is the country's third largest.

The lake which has a total area of 17,060 hectares and total lakeshore length of 62.10 kilometers is situated in between provinces of Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte whose total area is divided almost equally between the two provinces.

There are eight municipalities surrounding or located near the proximity of the lake. These are the towns of Jabonga, Kitcharao, Santiago and Tubay in Agusan del Norte and Mainit, Alegria, Tubod and Sison, in Surigao del Norte with 31 lakeshore barangays surrounding the historic Lake Mainit.

Results of the series of symposia, meetings, studies and consultations for the Lake Mainit convergence comprehensive development plan, initiated by the Lake Mainit Development Alliance (LMDA) through funding of PACAP or the Philippine-Australia Community Assistance Program, showed that aside from kaingin and log poaching, rising settlement along lakeshore cause the further deterioration of the lake.

The lake got its name from Visayan word 'Mainit' which means 'hot' after early settlers near lakeshore and riverbank settlements discovered a 'hot spring' in the upstream portion of Kalinawan River near Santiago town. A lumad touched the water of the spring and shouted 'mapaso' which means in local dialect 'hot'.

Various studies made recently on the condition of Lake Mainit showed improper solid waste disposal caused water pollution of the lake due to contamination of chemicals from thrown paint cans, bottles, fertilizers and others and settlement in lakeshore increased over the years.

The pollution caused fish kills, waterborne diseases and death to some beneficial lake micro-organisms.

Lake Mainit is reported to be the habitat of rare fish species, the puyo or perch and gabot. These species have become rare due to the introduction of new fish species.

On the other hand, continued illegal logging, timber poaching and kaingin at the watershed areas of the lake due to increasing settlement have caused unquantifiable destruction of terrestrial flora and fauna, including its habitat.

The massive soil erosion and fast denudation of the watershed areas of Lake Mainit caused landslides in the area where felled trees are dragged causing massive siltation or huge build up of sediment or mud deposits that caused flashfloods to low lying areas surrounding the lake.

The huge build up of sediment mud due siltation at the Kalinawan River, the only exit point of the waters of Lake Mainit to Tubay Bay, caused thousand of hectares of rice lands who had no irrigation or flood control canals extremely submerged into floodwaters during rainy season.

Study showed this rendered thousand of hectares rice lands unproductive which caused food or rice shortage in the provinces of Agsuan del Norte and Surigao del Norte.

The onslaught of mining activities whether it be large or small scale mining now gravely threatened ecology in the areas surrounding the lakes and Lake Mainit itself.

Gold panning activities which widely used poisonous, toxic material mercury have also threatened the very survival of Lake Mainit which is an ecotourism destination area because of its beautiful sceneries.

Lake Mainit Development Alliance (LMDA) Manager Engr. Kaiser Recabo said some P10-million is needed to dredge or deepen the Kalinawan River, the only outlet of Lake Mainit. Recabo also recommends long term solution like massive reforestation of the watershed areas of Lake Mainit.(Adelaida Bulaon-pr-inside.com)

Surigao Today

All articles/photos on this website are for general information only. Surigaotoday.com does not own any responsibility for the correctness or authenticity of the information in the articles. We take no responsibility for loss, inconvenience or injury resulting from this information.