In 1962, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations issued a report stating that developing countries had neglected their forest assets that could be converted into powerful engines for economic advancement. Harvesting these resources more aggressively, said the report, would result in a symbiotic relationship between industrial nations and less-developed countries (LDCs). The LDCs which had abundant forest resources could mobilize them for development, in as much as they could be assured of markets within more advanced trading partners. These more developed countries would also benefit from the relationship through the steady supply of forest products, particularly timber, to fuel and sustain further economic development. This was the prevailing attitude among international development authorities in the 1950s and 1960s. As a result, industrial forestry was undertaken in countries such as the Philippines. Contracts and development plans were administered from the top down, an approach that conformed to the accepted economic developments standards of the time.
Stone and D'Andrea (2001) chronicled the impact of such development on the upland forests of Mindanao, and on the indigenous Lumads who occupied these forests. For centuries, the Lumads lived on the upper slopes of Mindanao in Bukidnon province, in relative isolation. Following World War II, the population of the Philippines exploded, and after the best agricultural soils in the lowlands were occupied, migrants from other islands began moving into Bukidnon. The Lumads fled to more remote areas, because they had no land rights. However, the law of the land allocated these "undocumented" lands to the public domain. The Lumads were considered squatters, and had to move on when a number of foreign logging companies began operating in the province. By the mid 1970s, these companies, and the national ones that eventually replaced them, had stripped Bukid-non of its timber. The companies then moved on to new territories. The number of forest licenses issued to timber companies and the number of hectares felled each year reached a record between 1972 and 1984. By 1990, only 20% of the country was forested, and most of this was second-growth forest with less commercial value or biological importance than the old-growth forest.
Some of the immigrants to Bukidnon were able to establish farms in the cut-over forests, but periodic fires converted much of the land to alang alang (Imperata cylindrica), an aggressive grass that competes with crops and that is very difficult to control. The hoped-for benefits of forest-based development had not materialized. Fortunes were made as forests were devastated. However, nearly all the benefits were funneled to those in political power, with practically no benefits to the local farmers (Stone and D'Andrea 2001).
The Tala-andig are another indigenous group that lived in the mountains around the central plateau of Mindanao. Like the Lumads, they were forced to higher elevations as logging companies cleared the valley, once covered by moist forest. Now they live on lands officially claimed as "ancestral heritage", but the forests still are endangered. Soils cleared of forest at high elevations are ideal for growing potatoes, much in demand in Manila fast-food restaurants. However, they can be grown for only 1 year before suffering from wilt, so the migrant farmers continually move up-slope, seeking fresh ground. Forests are opened up through "accidental" fires in alang alang, which quickly spread upslope.
There are many more cases of where governments of tropical countries have granted logging concessions to national or international companies with little thought of how deforestation would affect the indigenous peoples that live in the regions. In many cases, such as that of the BaNgombe and BaKoule of the Congo (Box 4.4), loggers removed only a small proportion of the trees. Nevertheless, the presence of the logging company had a large impact on these people, both economically and socially. In other cases, such as that of the Penan in Borneo (Box 4.5), environmental disasters such as fires resulting from careless logging added to the impact on indigenous peoples.
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