Forest conservation vs. illegal logging

Forest - our protection and resource

Illegal logging and legal over-logging are one of the big problems in the Philippines. Before a tree is cut, it has three extremely important tasks: transform CO2 into wood and oxygene, secure the slope and hold back water.

Logging is needed – for men and for the forest. In a forest, where no old trees are cut, no young trees will grow. Men need wood for construction, houses and ships, furniture and finally a coffin. This is all OK, when the balance between cutting and growing is at even level.

Unfortunately Filipinos know only two positions: on/off, full power karaoke/no karaoke, freezing aircon/no aircon. In this way they also understand logging: Lots of trees/no tree at all.

Forest - our protection and resourcee
Imagine a typhoon here! The forest on the left would slow down the wind-speed and absorb millions of cubic-meters of water. The man made desert on the right would wash out, provoke landslides and kill you and me. 

The government and its environment agency, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) acts like Sisyphus in the Greek mythology. They catch one illegal logger and two new ones start their business.

At least once per week you can read headlines in the newspapers underlining this Don Quixote fight. Read just some sample headlines from January this year:

  • 25 trucks of logs seized from 3 Lanao del Sur villages | The Inquirer, 03/01/2012
  • Harsh penalties vs illegal loggers | The Journal Online, 04/01/2012
  • ARMM gov’t prepares illegal logging charges | The Inquirer, 06/01/2012
  • Joint army, environment troops seize illegal logs | PIA (Philippine Information Agency), 07/01/2012
  • Police seizes P6M worth of illegally cut lumbers in 2011 | PIA (Philippine Information Agency), 15/01/2012
  • Moro rebels’ help vs illegal logging sought | Sun Star Davao, 19/01/2012
  • Illegal loggers charged | Sun Star Zamboanga, 22/01/2012
  • Rufus bill seeks life imprisonment vs loggers | Mindanao Gold Star Daily, 30/01/2012

If you want to read them all, here is the link Link

But there is hope!

An article from Maurice Malanes in yesterday’s Inquirer might describe the beginning of a new era: 

Rewarding tribal folk for forest conservation

Tingguian elder Magno Dumas has committed himself to guard and protect every species of trees, plants, wild game and fresh water fish in Tubo, a remote upland town in Abra.
“Without the forests, we’d starve,” he says. The forests feed the springs and rivers that irrigate fields, give potable water and help supply the villagers’ protein needs in the form of fresh water fish and wild game like wild pigs and deer.
“And without the forests, we’d be deprived of comfortable shelter,” says Dumas, one of Tubo’s volunteer forest guards.
In Tubo (population: 9,000), village members can harvest trees from the forests for their housing needs only but are barred from cutting trees for sale.
They can sell other forest products such as rattan. But even gathering rattan is regulated by a traditional practice called “lapat.”
Lapat is a Tingguian forest management practice of imposing an off-season for harvesting vital resources to allow them to regenerate. For example, under lapat rules, pregnant and very young wild pig and deer must be spared.

Read the whole article here Link

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