TED Case Studies

Philippine Deforestation

     CASE NUMBER:        259
     CASE NAME:          Philippine Deforestation


1.   The Issue

     Primary forests in the Philippines are being destroyed due to
both logging and agricultural expansion, significantly decreasing
the Philippine's natural resources. This type of deforestation is
leading to a variety of global changes, as well as numerous local
changes. In the Philippines, two particular species of animals, the
Tamaraw (the wild buffalo), and the Philippines eagle are almost
extinct due to the massive deforestation. The government under
Ferdinand Marcos had close ties to the major logging companies and
had allowed the massive deforestation of the forests to stimulate
the Philippine economy though exports.

2.   Description

     According to a recent study done by the World Resources
Institute (WRI) stagnant economies and increasing populations have
severely degraded the land in the Philippines. 

     "In the Philippines, one of the world's most densely
     populated countries, economic stagnation  throughout, the
     1980's pushed the poverty-stricken and the unemployed out
     of the cities and into the remote forested uplands.  Now,
     11 million people live in the forest uplands  without
     title, and, therefore, have no incentive to maintain the

     Forest cover in the Philippines has decreased by 56 percent in
the postwar period. "For the past 50 years, the Philippines has
lost 2.4 acres of hardwood forests every minute... leaving only a
21 percent forest cover." The Philippines have a high
concentration of a certain tropical hardwood known as the
Dipterocarpaceae species, which is indigenous to the Southeast
Asian countries, and exported globally for a high commercial
return. (Approximately 70 percent of all tropical wood products on
the global market after World War II originated in Southeast Asia;
this proportion had risen to 83 percent by the mid 1980s.) The
Philippines earned between $160 million and $180 million from
lumber exports in 1988.

     Deforestation in the Philippines is attributed to two things:
increasing agriculture and illegal logging. Deforestation in this
case is a two step process: conversion of primary to secondary
forests by logging, and then removal of secondary forests by the
expansion of agriculture, mainly small subsistence cultivation.
Interestingly enough, population growth is not a driving force
behind deforestation in the Philippines. As of 1990, the country■s
population was 62.4 million, with a 2.6 percent growth rate. There
are close to 7 million farmers populating the uplands who need to
make a living at the expense of the forests. Rural population
growth has an affect on agricultural expansion, thus having an
indirect affect on deforestation. So, large-scale logging followed
by agriculture int he 1970-1990 period was the major process by
which deforestation occurred int he Philippines. 

     Deforestation has far reaching affects, including displacement
of animal life living in the forests, loss of valuable topsoil due
to lack of protection from the elements, landslides, silted
streams, and the destruction of coastal mangroves, which protect
the coastline form hurricanes and other severe weather fronts.
Without the forest■s cooling insulation the climate has been
affected: the weather veers from drought to flood. The tamaraw,
the wild buffalo, has steadily moved further into the forests as
they cling to the last remaining tufts of trees on the mountains.
From a population of about 10,000 around 1944, only 250 tamaraws
remain on the island today. Alarmed by the loss, the World
Conservation Union (IUCN) has classified the Philippines as the
world■s 12th highest priority conservation areas to protect endemic
species like the tamaraw which are found nowhere else on earth.
Attempts to breed the tamaraws on farms were not successful as they
died of parasites from cattle ranches. The tamaraw has been
elevated to a national symbol with its outline on the one peso
coin, and Toyota has named one of its new vans after the animal,
but it is not likely that the species will survive continued

     The Philippines eagle is the other species most at risk from
deforestation. In the 1930s, an estimated 10,000 eagles were
soaring over the forests. Due to deforestation, there are only 63
left, 16 are in captivity, and 47 have been spotted in the wild.
This monkey-eating eagle is not found anywhere else in the world.
The Philippines eagle is one of the world■s biggest, with a wing
span of 7 feet, and generally weighs from 5 kg to 9 kg. It eats
monkey, lemurs, bats and snakes. It talons have a grip three times
stronger than man■s and it can break a monkey■s neck or crush a
snake■s skull with ease. Attempts to breed the eagle in captivity
have been successful, and the Philippines Eagle Foundation has hope
that the species will be saved. 

     An example of how deforestation has affected the local
population is the case of prawn farming. Mangroves are being
destroyed both as a source of exporting hardwood, and also as a way
for entrepreneurs to develop prawn farms. Prawn farming will bring
in an income of $90,000 for a 50 hectare network of ponds for costs
of only $5,000 to maintain. This type of venture will make few
Filipinos extremely rich. But at the same time, other Filipinos
starve as a result. Prawn farming replaced milkfish farming,
milkfish being a basic food staple in the diets of many poor
people. As the prawns are raised specifically to be exported to
Japan and not for local consumption, the price of milkfish went up
(50 percent between 1987 and 1988), as did the rate of

     Displacement of indigenous peoples due to deforestation is of
great concern. The National Federation of Indigenous Peoples of the
Philippines (KAMP) have warned the government of future conflict if
they approved of a government reforestation program that would
legally dispossess indigenous people from their ancestral land. The
program they are talking about it the Industrial Forestry
Plantation program (IFP), a plant-harvest-replant scheme to curb
massive deforestation.

     Corruption plays a major role in deforestation. An anti-
logging task force named a province governor, Faustino Dy, as a
culprit of illegal logging. The task force confiscated millions of
pesos worth of logs and logging equipment. One solution to the
problem of illegal logging was to deputize Catholic priests to
apprehend thieves. The priests are deputized as ■forest officers,■
and they see the role of the church in the Philippines to be on the
front line of the environmental battle that is occurring in the

     The church, as an institution, has been enlisted by the
government to keep their parishioners informed of environmental
issues, as well as to organize and advocate ecological causes. The
priests aim to convince the people that commercial logging must be
stopped. A particular group in the province of Luzon started the
"Save the Sierra Madre Movement," to protect the 42 percent forest
cover of virgin forest remaining in Luzon. Enforcing the logging
ban, however, has turned out to be dangerous work. Two priests who
tried to stop illegal logging in their provinces were murdered,
another was sprayed with gunshots only days after he confiscated an
illegal haul of logs.

     Other grassroots organizations have learned to fight back, as
well. Tree spiking has become a common form of retaliation against
the loggers. Tree spiking involves driving nails into the trunks of
trees, making it extremely dangerous to cut down. Trying to cut the
trees down with a chainsaw could maim the tool■s wielder once the
chain hits a nail, breaks and whips the operator at high speed. If
the log survives the cutting, once it reaches a sawmill, the nail
could shatter the sawmill blade and wound workers. 

     Armed with nails, activists believe this is a last resort
effort to save what remains of the Philippines■ forests. Tree
spiking began in December of 1994, in Bataan National Park, where
logging is prohibited but rampant. The idea of sabotaging tree
cutters was introduced by visiting US green activists and now
former members of the University of the Philippines Mountaineers
are promoting it. Activists have publicly announced that they are
selective in their spiking. "We only spike trees along riverbanks
and trees in national parks. Tree spiking is a direct action that
creates a defense for the tree." 

3.   Related Cases

     MANGROVE case
     THAILOG case
     MALAY case
     INDONES case
     SUGAR case

     Keyword Clusters    
     (1): Product                  = WOOD
     (2): Bio-geography            = TROPical
     (3): Environmental Problem    = DEFORestation

4.   Draft Author:  Kelly McKenna and Alyssa Bleck

B.   Legal Filters

5.   Discourse and Status: DISagree and ALLEGation

     The Forest Management Bureau is the key governmental agency
that is supposed to regulate the logging industry. The Bureau of
Forestry determines an annual allowable cut, measured in cubic
meters and based on the area to be cut and its stand density. The
annual allowable cut is different for each of the Philippine■s 73
provinces. These provinces range in size from 209 to 14, 896 square
kilometers, with an average size of approximately 4,100 square
kilometers. Logging activity is consistently under reported,
because the annual allowable cuts are larger than reported by the
Forest Management Bureau, the annual allowable cuts more accurately
reflect the amount of timber removed both legally and illegally.

     President Corazon Aquino reinforced her public speech of March
18, 1989 with an official ban on timber exports. The ban went into
effect July 1, 1989. Even she feared that the official action may
have been too late to stop the massive destruction of the
Philippine forests. In October of 1988, Aquino placed a tax on
loggers to pay for a government-run program to plant new trees,
supported by $120 million loan from the Asian Development Bank.

     The Asian Development Bank (ADB) first become involved in
the wake of an ADB report that described as "alarming" the rate of
deforestation in a region that is home to a quarter of the world■s
tropical forests and half the world■s plant and animal species.
Their policy for the Philippines, a forest-poor country, focused on
creating more domestic wood supplies through plantations and
improving forest management practices. The ADB will seek to reduce
demand for wood by promoting wood substitutes and alternative fuel
energy sources such as biogas, kerosene, and solar power.

6.   Forum and Scope:  PHILippines and UNILATeral

7.   Decision Breadth: 1
     The ban came only after over 50 percent of the natural forests

had been destroyed. The government has been reluctant to take any
action against the logging industry due to the fact that the
industry consists of many ethnic Chinese who developed close ties
with military leaders and politicians during Ferdinand Marcos' 20-
year-rule. The major problem that is expected is the lack of
enforcement measures by the government. Philippine congressmen are
trying to promote some type of sustainable forestry as a way to
protect the trees since a total log ban could never be

8.   Legal Standing: LAW

     In terms of the deforestation, logging has been banned in
certain areas (like Mindanao).  In Mindanao priests have the right
to seize illegal logs and arrest offenders.  It is only in this
province that the DENR has deputized the priests enabling them to
enforce the ban.  However, enforcing the ban has become difficult
and has jeopardized the province's priests lives.  Many have been
murdered as a result of their actions to combat the deforestation
problem.  In a January 1988 Catholic Bishops Conference "bishops
drew attention to what they called a 'deep-seated crisis,'
springing from the ruthless exploitation of the forests and the

     "These days a growing number of priests are talking about
     religion and nature.  They say it is the role of the
     church to be on the front line of the environmental
     battle that is raging in the Philippine countryside. 
     Priests are preaching ecology, logging bans and, in some
     provinces, heading to the hills to stop loggers."

     In response to the deforestation problem Luzon initiated the
Save the Sierra Madre Movement.  This movement is an anti-logging
task force which confiscate millions of pesos worth of logs and
logging equipment.  However, murders have occured due to the
parishioners' efforts to try and control the deforestation problem. 
"Last year, Father Nery Lito Sator was sprayed with gunshot wounds
days after he confiscated an illegal haul of logs."

C.   Geography Filters

9.   Geographic Locations

     a.   Geographic Domain:  ASIA
     b.   Geographic Site:    East Asia
     c.   Geographic Impact:  THAIland

10.  Sub-National Factors:  No

11.  Type of Habitat: TROPical

     Tropical hardwoods, particularly the Depterocarpaceae species.

IV.  Trade Filters

12.  Type of Measure: Regulatory Standard [REGSTD]

13.  Direct vs. Indirect Impacts: INDirect

     Direct impacts of deforestation are: erosion, loss of topsoil,
landslides, silted streams, vulnerability to severe weather fronts,
changing climate, extinct wildlife, extinct plant life, and the
loss of natural timber resources. Indirect impacts of deforestation
is a slight increase in agricultural subsistence farming, which
also indirectly leads to an increase in population.

14.  Relation of Trade Measure to Resource Impact

     a. Directly Related:          Yes 
     b. Indirectly Related:        Yes MANY
     c. Not Related:               No
     d. Process:                   Yes DEFORestation

15.  Trade Product Identification:  Wood

16.  Economic Data

     In 1988 the Philippines earned between $160 million and $180
million from lumber exports, primarily to Japan for manufacturing
use.  For those who are unemployed, working at sawmills is
attractive, because workers are paid 150 pesos (approximately $5)
each for a day■s work. Participating in the reforestation programs
planting new trees will only get them 90 pesos ($3) a day for their

17.  Impact of Trade Restriction: LOW

     Although the ban is still in effect, it has not proved to be
a deterrent to illegal loggers.

18.  Industry Sector:  Wood

19.  Exporter and Importer:  Philippines and Japan

V.   Environmental Filters

20.  Environmental Problem Type:  Deforestation

21. Number of Species

     Wildlife affected include monkeys, wild boar, python, ducks,
the Philippine ostrich, the tamaraw and the Philippines eagle.

     Species:       Dipterocarpaceae
     Type:          Plant
     Diversity:     NA

22.  Resource Impact: Medium

23.  Urgency and Lifetime:  MEDium and 100s of years

23.  Substitutes:  RECYCling

F.   Other Factors

25.  Culture: NO

     The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as many as
25 million Filipinos have goiter due to iodine deficiencies. The
problem is most severe in the uplands where 90 percent of
schoolchildren have goiter. (Goiter is the enlargement of the
thyroid gland, caused by a lack of iodine.) Without iodine, both
the human brain and body cannot function properly. Iodine-deficient
mothers suffer from frequent miscarriages, still births and early
infant deaths. Their babies may be born deformed or suffering from
mild to severe mental retardation. Iodine is present in soil and
water. But flooding and soil erosion, which are consequences of
deforestation wash out the iodine from the soil. With such massive
deforestation occurring, more people are eating food grown in
iodine-deficient soil. Iodine is needed only in small amounts, but
it must be taken regularly.

     The best and cheapest way to prevent iodine deficiency is to
spray salt supplies with potassium iodate. In the Philippines,
iodized salt is available only in upscale supermarket in big
cities, where it sells for three times the price of ordinary salt.
Such a detrimental affect on the population of the Philippines will
have to be addressed, with or without any aggressive laws against
deforestation. The health department is counting on the success of
its immunization programs and the information and mobilization of
citizen■s groups. However, such minimal efforts do not address the
root of the problem. The government seems to be seeing only the
resulting consequences of deforestation without seeing
deforestation as being the cause of the problems.

26.  Human Rights:  NO

27.  Trans-Boundary Issues: NO

28.  Relevant Literature

Broad, Robin.  "The Poor and the Environment: Friends or Foes." 
World Development June 1994, v.22n6, pp.811-822. 

Broad, Robin and John Cavanagh. Plundering Paradise: The Struggle
for the Environment in the Philippines (Berkeley, CA: University of
California Press, 1993).

De Castro, Isagani.  "Philippines: Wild or in Farms, Buffaloes on
the Decline," Inter Press Service, August 2, 1994

Dixit, Kunda.  "Philippines Environment: Save the Forests, Save the
People," Inter Press Service, April 7, 1994.

Jones, Clayton.  "Aquino Joins Bid to Protect Forests," Christian
Science Monitor, March 22, 1989.

Kummer, David. "The Human Causes of Deforestation in Southeast
Asia," Bioscience, Volume 44 Number 5, May 1994.

Lambert, Bruce.  "Filipinos are Bereft: How Befouled is Their
Eden?"  New York Times, July 13, 1993.

McBeth, John. "Heat abd Dust." Far Eastern Economic Review Sept.
19, 1991, v.153n38, p.68.

McCarthy, Terry.  'Phillippines Mourns Eagle That Became a Symbol,"
The Independent,  January 14, 1994.

Maier, Susan.  "Subic Bay Legacies." World Press Review March 1993,
v.40n3, pp.34-35.

Mincher, Paul.  "The Philippine Energy Crisis." Ecologist Nov.
1993, v.23n6, pp.228-233.

"Philippines Health: Battling Against Iodine Deficiency," Inter
Press Service, May 24, 1994.

Ryan, Megan.  "Plundering Paradise," World Watch, Volume 6 Number
5, September 1993.

Severino, Howie.  "Tree-Spikers Open New Front in Green War," Inter
Press Service, March 29, 1995.

Vitug, Marites.  "Faith in the Forest," Far Eastern Economic
Review, Volume 155 Number 16, April 23, 1992.

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