There are renewed calls from various sectors to protect the Sierra Madre, the longest mountain range in the country which spans from the northern province of Cagayan down to Quezon in southern Luzon, following back-to-back typhoons late last year.
Protecting the Sierra Madre is critical because it is the site of nearly half of the surviving old-growth forest in the Philippines. The mountain range also historically serves as a buffer against storms that develop in the Pacific Ocean, protecting millions of Filipinos living in the main island of Luzon.
Despite many existing laws and regulations aimed at preserving the remaining forests, the Sierra Madre remains under heavy threat of illegal logging, mining activities and development projects.
The inability of watersheds to absorb and hold rainfall contributed to the severe flooding that submerged communities in Marikina City and Rizal following the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses last year.