Slope is one of the most important land characteristics being considered in land use suitability evaluation. Slope controls the direction and often the quantity of surface drainage (or runoff) and influences soil erosion susceptibility and rainfall infiltration into the soil. It also determines the ultimate use of the land.
Baguio City is 4,500 meters above sea level. Against the land suitability criteria (i.e. 50% and above slope and mean elevation of 1,000 meters above sea level), this means the City is a protection area. (Which is why I don’t understand why continued rapid development is allowed to eat up this City’s space – I’m wondering about what sea decision-makers have as their reference point in measuring the City’s steepness. Is there a sea around the Cordilleras I don’t see?)
In addition, the City is within a multiple hazard zone: natural (earthquake, landslide/erosion, climate-related given its altitude), and manmade (increased flooding/water runoff due to questionable development on watersheds and forest areas).
Given these, my personal bias is that the whole of Baguio City meets the criteria of and so should be placed under NIPAS, specifically as a protected and managed landscape, to serve as moratorium on further unplanned development (so much in terms of the City’s urban form is unplanned) until such time that City Hall will produce and finance the plan.
Meanwhile, since the land has already been built on and quite extensively, with more built up areas now than forest protection areas, the only alternative is to make the present land use work.
Still, land use of the City should be maintained (rehabilitated is more like it given current situation) as a predominantly protection area, or the percentage of forest use should be equal or greater than that for built up areas. Otherwise, what’s the slope criteria for?
In this light, the BLISTT metropolitan arrangement should be a win-win strategy for the towns and municipalities involved including Baguio City. If adopted, allocation and development of land for built up areas will be shared (i.e. at the level of the metropolitan) so that no one single town or city has to give up too much or all of its forest space.