Written by By Jan Diehm, CNN
Tropical thunderstorms can destroy coral reefs but even more so, disappear them. Dunes along the coast of the Philippines — essentially their islands — now lie shrouded in dense clouds of brown, dead leaves.
Years of a coral die-off are to blame, scientists say. But with the problem worsening in the decades since, it is hoped something might be done to address the problem.
“If you went to these areas, you would find devastation everywhere — the sand dunes all covered in mud,” says Rachelle Sakiang, who has studied the disappearing dunes for several years. “This is when the rise was the highest and we have so many humans here.”
This, she points out, is one of the sites where the problem is most acute.
Incredible underwater video shows two mid-sized coral reefs disappearing off the coast of Indonesia
Many of these traditional agricultural areas are also being destroyed for economic reasons — where tourism is concerned, they have more-sizable profits. “They were so used to having people coming into the dunes that if there were no dunes, it would obviously make their crops more vulnerable,” Sakiang says.
Tourism is on the rise as more and more people flock to the country’s shores and seek respite from a tough year. In 2017, the country recorded 43.3 million international tourists.
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“With the upsurge of tourists has come increased fuel consumption, unwise planning and commercialization,” Sakiang says.
A few months ago, a handful of protesters gathered at Parita in Palawan to protest the effects the lack of beach has on local people’s livelihoods. Also in Parita village is one of the most popular beaches in the province, but it’s mostly too soft to swim in due to its local ecosystem.
Experts say tourism is too strong, but how people can protect their natural resources for the future remains a question.