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DENR encourages use of hazard maps by property buyers, developers

Posted on September 07, 2012 06:06:59 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

THE ENVIRONMENT department has advised real estate firms and home buyers to use the agency’s geohazard maps to ensure that their properties are situated away from areas prone to landslides and floods.

In a statement on Friday, Environment Secretary Ramon Jesus P. Paje said that the maps produced by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) could help prospective property buyers and property developers avoid risks to their investments, and more importantly, save lives.

The MGB’s geohazard mapping and assessment program, which is part of the government’s risk reduction and disaster management program, seeks to identify areas in the country which are susceptible to a variety of geologic hazards like rain-induced landslides, floods, ground subsidence or sinking, and coastal degradation, among others. The maps show the level of vulnerability of a certain barangay or municipality to these kinds of disasters.

“Buying a house and lot is definitely a big investment for an ordinary family; that they have to pay at the most, for 30 years, if they acquire such through a housing loan. Finding out that their area gets easily flooded and are prone to landslide later on would be tragic, so it is better to be on safe side always,” Mr. Paje stressed.

Property developers, on the other hand, were urged by the Cabinet official to use the maps to study targeted project areas and be able to make necessary adjustments to the designs of their buildings.

“We have already experienced the varied impacts of climate change -- severe flooding, landslides, drought -- which we could no longer ignore. These are the new normal, and to stay afloat with these new situations, we need to adapt to climate change by way of technologies, engineering interventions, even the architecture of our buildings and houses,” he explained.

Through the MGB’s geohazard mapping and assessment efforts, the department has already identified the top 10 flood-prone areas in the country, namely Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pangasinan, Maguindanao, Bulacan, Metro Manila, North Cotabato, Oriental Mindoro and Ilocos Norte.

The top 10 landslide-prone areas, on the other hand, are Benguet, Mt. Province, Nueva Ecija, Kalinga-Apayao, Southern Leyte, Abra, Marinduque, Cebu, Catanduanes and Ifugao.

The bureau has already finished producing geohazard maps with a scale of 1:50,000 for all the 1,634 cities and municipalities in the country. It is now working on enlarging the maps to a scale of 1:10,000, said the department.

It is also currently conducting geohazard surveys and assessments of coastal and marine areas.

The maps, said Mr. Paje, can be viewed on the Web sites of the Environment department (www.denr.gov.ph), the MGB (www.mgb.gov.ph), the Philippine Information Agency (www.pia.gov.ph) and the Environmental Science for Social Change (www.essc.org.ph).

Interested parties can also contact their respective local government units to view the maps, which are also downloadable from the MGB’s Web site. -- Bettina Faye V. Roc      
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