Mandulog River: A Tragedy of The Commons

Environmental wannabees sometimes talks of the Tragedy of the Commons. This environmental thesis was first espoused by Garrett Hardin (a Professor of Human Ecology at the University of California) in 1968 who argued that overpopulation of any species will deplete shared natural resources. A “commons” property is thought of as owned by all people, such as a river, the sea, the air, or a pasture open to all. Each citizen may decide to increase his use of the common properties without any limit – and the tragedy therein occurs because in reality these resources do have certain limits, beyond which it can no longer sustain itself.

Mandulog is the once mighty and sparklingly clean river that crisscross several provinces and cities in Mindanao, namely: Lanao Del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Iligan City, and a host of other smaller local government units. Its pristine waters, and the river basin feeding it is a home to a host of marine and forest species that lives within its shadows.Now, no more!

Nowadays, some people living in these places obviously believing that they have the inherent right to enjoy the natural bounties of this beautiful river and its basin, have begun to wantonly harvest its natural resource. The tragedy here is that everyone else also thinks so!

The tragedy of the commons waiting to happen (or has already happened?) is when each of these cities and provinces will  try to outdo each other reaping the bounties of these river basin (ie.. lumber, gravel, sand, fill materials, minerals, and many others) – while conveniently neglecting to limit the utilization of these limited resource.

Or perhaps, they thought that it is the others’ responsibility?

What a tragedy will it be, when the forest becomes denuded. When the river ecology is adversely affected beyond repair by the wanton extraction of its natural resource .All simply because each city or province – waits for the other to act?

When no one wants to shoulder the huge expenses, and trouble of protecting this precious resource which we need to pass on to the future generation  for their survival,  then it is a tragedy indeed!


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