IN PHOTOS: Revisiting Cagayan de Oro's dwindling forest cover

MANILA, Philippines – Six years ago, a devastating tropical cyclone also hit Northern Mindanao in December, leaving more than 1,200 people dead, around 6,000 injured, and over 180 others missing.

Hardest hit by Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi) in December 2011 were the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

Sendong dumped more than a month's worth of average rainfall in just 12 hours back then, triggering deadly flash floods and landslides.

In the aftermath of the disaster, climate change experts such as lawyer Tony La Viña pointed out that there was a need to stop destructive activities like illegal logging, which have led to deforestation in Northern Mindanao and other regions. (READ: After Sendong, 10 things we must do)

This writer was able to document the thinning forests of Mindanao through Philippine Air Force (PAF) reconnaissance and humanitarian missions, together with a team from Albay organized by the local government.

We spotted not just landslides but also huge logs swept away by raging waters in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City, as shown in the photos below. The environmental degradation was evident, aggravating the situation in inundated areas.

Six years after Sendong battered Northern Mindanao, Severe Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin) – which later intensified into a typhoon – brought torrential rain, heavy flooding, and landslides to the region and surrounding areas. The death toll has topped 200, with tens of thousands displaced. – Rappler.com