Philippine forests scored a victory for survival thanks to the country’s Supreme Court and a group of community members fighting to save beloved trees crucial to the region’s environment.
In what is being called by Indigenous communities a landmark ruling against invasive nickel mining, the court has issued the industry’s leaders operating there a “writ of kalikasan,” translated as ”writ of nature,” according to Eco-Business.
The government’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Ipilan Nickel Corporation, and Celestial Mining are among the entities that received the writ.
It’s important news, as Mongabay reported that community members have been fighting since 2005 to stop forest destruction they said is caused by mining-related activity in Palawan’s Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape, a place of sacred and ecological significance. A group representing indigenous people sent the industry leaders a cease-and-desist order on the same day the writ was issued, per Mongabay.
“The prompt action of the Supreme Court has truly given us renewed hope and inspiration to continue what we’re doing,” former Palawan Mayor Mary Jean Feliciano told Mongabay.
Feliciano was suspended from office during her fight with the miners several years ago and now serves as vice mayor. A photo shared by the environmental news site shows a huge stack of trees, part of 7,000 cut in the Mantalingahan.
Feliciano was successfully able to stop mining operations for a short time in 2018. However, industry officials intend to continue efforts to gather nickel through “responsible mining” in areas outside the protected mountain range, Mongabay reported.
Palawan is an example of the intersection of modern living and natural tranquility. Unfortunately, the latter is sometimes sacrificed to serve the former.
Biodiversity scientist Aldrin Mallari sees the writ as “the right of nature to exist … given importance.”
He told Mongabay that Typhoon Rai destroyed 311,000 acres of nearby northern forests in 2021. That makes the portions of the southern forest lost to the nickel enterprise all the more devastating, according to the watchdogs. Mallari sees those forests as a refuge for homeless creatures displaced by Rai and a safeguard for biodiversity.
“What we need to do is to connect these pockets of biodiversity to the south,” he said to Mongabay.
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