Conservation under Regional Industrialization: Fragmentation and Cover Change in a Forest Reserve
Buffer zones are established along the perimeters of reserves for their protection. The literature is replete with examples of development in buffer zones that have been detrimental to the conservation efforts of the reserve. Barangay Puting Lupa in Calamba City, Philippines is adjacent to Zone 3 of the Mount Makiling Forest Reserve (MMFR). Despite industrial and settlement development in the periphery, the forest recovered its northwestern sub-watershed, as evidenced by satellite imagery, showing reduced fragmentation. Although the conservation strategy for MMFR changed from settler antagonism to a participative approach, other factors were involved that brought about the possible unassisted forest regrowth. Low density settlement development with corporate social responsibility committed to wildlife conservation; high demand for skilled labor due to rapid regional industrialization and urbanization; an aging corps of original farmers; the high regard of Filipino families for their children’s education for better opportunities in life; and the livelihood preference of family members other than farming in lands with no security of tenure; all combined in an auspicious mix of factors to bring about apparent partial abandonment of farming within Zone 3 of the MMFR and conservation in the buffer zone. The forest recovered, and with decreased fragmentation, indicative of enhanced forest integrity.