Tag Archives: Inc.

Government urged to stop conversion of forest lands

BusinessWorld Online
Kathleen A. Martin
January 27, 2011

RATHER THAN IMPOSING a national log ban, the country should instead stop conversion of forest lands for non-forestry uses, an expert on forestry said yesterday.

“Instead of a total logging ban, the Philippines should stop the conversion of forest lands into corporate farms, cattle ranches, golf courses, subdivisions, garbage dumps, and industrial sites and other non-forestry uses,” Ricardo M. Umali, former president of Society of Filipino Foresters, Inc., and former secretary of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources, said in a statement.

Mr. Umali made the statement in response to President Benigno S. C. Aquino’s pronouncement last Jan. 14 that he was considering a total log ban, and to two pending bills in the Senate, Senate Bills 1360 and 2172.

Mr. Umali said a total log ban does not necessarily stop or minimize flooding, mudflows and landslides, citing that these are the consequences of climate change seen in excessive rains. Mr. Umali also cited that other countries which supposedly have more forest lands than the Philippines, such as Australia and Brazil, are also suffering from flooding due to excessive and heavy rainfall.

“Deforestation in the Philippines is caused mostly by conversion of forests to rangelands of ranchers and livestock growers and to farmlands by landless farmers who practice the destructive kaingin or slash and burn agriculture. Much of the farmed former forests have become marginally productive and should be reforested,” Mr. Umali said, adding that the country can stop deforestation through providing more opportunities for livelihood.

Earlier, the Society of Filipino Foresters, Inc. opposed a national ban on logging, saying that it can discourage investments in the forestry sector.

Mindanao needs 500 MW in non-hydro power capacity

By Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted September 19, 2010

MANILA, Philippines—Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras wants the Mindanao grid to have at least 500 megawatts (MW) in baseload generation capacity from non-hydro sources such as coal, to insulate the island from severe power outages and unstable supply in the near future.

“Our problem in Mindanao is our overdependence on hydropower,” Almendras said.

With climate change and the dry spell brought about by the El Niño phenomenon, water resources get scarce, threatening power supply in Mindanao, he said.

Almendras said the 500 MW of non-hydro baseload generation capacity was needed in Mindanao “since we cannot predict exactly what the water levels will be in Mindanao in the coming years.”

At present, Mindanao gets more than half of its electricity requirements from hydropower sources, with the Agus-Pulangi hydropower complex providing more than 900 MW. The drought experienced early this year reduced the water levels at the dams and cut power generating capacities on the island to less than 10 percent.

“Estimates show that power supply shortfall in Mindanao will only be 50 MW in 2011 but that is because of the assumption that all the hydropower plants will be on stream all year round. In order to insulate Mindanao from power outages, the most ideal thing is to install 500 MW of non hydro capacity,” Almendras said.

Over the next 20 years, Mindanao would need 2,500 MW in new capacity, according to Almendras.

He admitted that given the present situation, Mindanao must rely on clean coal-fired facilities to provide the additional capacity.

The good news, he said, was that the government had received commitments from private companies to push through with their coal projects in Mindanao.

Almendras said Conal Holdings Corp. of the Alcantara family would push through with the 200-MW coal facility (SM 200) in Sarangani, the first phase for which will start operating by 2012 while Phase 2 will be available by 2013. The same company, he added, will put up another 100-MW coal facility in Zamboanga (ZAM 100).

Steag State Power, Inc—composed of Aboitiz Power Corp., Evonik Steag GmbH of Essen, Germany, and the La Filipina Uy Gongco Corp.—is seen putting up a 200-MW coal plant in Misamis Oriental, he added.

“Although there is no definite schedule yet, we are in talks with them for a possible 24-month implementation,” he added.

The energy chief further admitted however that electricity prices in Mindanao would have to increase gradually to reflect the true cost of power and encourage the private sector
to infuse investments into the power sector on the island.

“The bigger challenge in Mindanao is the price. Our brothers in Mindanao have benefited from the low cost of hydro generation all these years, and going by the balance of power and supply, we cannot afford to put in too much technology that will result in a spike in the prices,” Almendras said.