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Trees in the Philippines Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Kat Birch, United Kingdom Dec 14, 2006
Environment , Human Rights   Opinions


In Samar, the third largest island in the Philippines, it is illegal to cut trees in areas designated as “timberland” by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). This law was put in place to protect the island’s rapidly disappearing forests, home to numerous endemic animals and plants. Samar is part of the Greater Mindanao Faunal Region, one of the richest and most biologically distinctive in the Philippines. The rationale for protecting forests, especially tropical primary ones is often heard and hard to dispute and so will not be repeated here.

However, while the Philippines is full of nice laws and ideas they are rarely reflected in reality. Vast tracts of land classified as timberland during the 1970s no longer have any forests and are often the long-established homes of whole communities. The misclassification may have arisen from an original error by the DENR, as lands were often chopped up on maps in offices and did not always reflect the situation on the ground, so although classified as timberland numerous people may have been inhabiting the area. Or it may reflect a real change in status of the forest. 40 years of illegal logging and encroaching human settlements with a slash and burn culture may have stripped the land of its forest species. However the problem arose, and it is leaving millions in limbo.

Most people living in the provinces’ rural areas use wood everyday for cooking their food and building their houses, for making trellises for vegetables and cooping their chickens> Almost all these people break the law everyday in doing so. But no matter how educated they are about the legality of their actions or of the effects on the environment and the ability of future generations to meet their own needs they are trapped by their need for wood. Realizing the impossibility of the situation a blind eye is turned by the law to most such transgressions and the underfunded DENR shrugs and offers no real alternatives.

At the other end of the spectrum things are a little different. In August 2005 a law banning the commercial extraction of trees from Samar was lifted. The ban was put in place in 1989 after flash floods wrecked havoc, destroying homes and farms and killed 79 people. Now, the San Jose Timber Company, under the ownership of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile will again be allowed access to over 90,000ha that fall within Samar Integrated Forest Reserve and the Samar Island Natural Park.

Senator Enrile is a supporter of President Arroyo and over the last 16 years has been working hard to prove that the logging ban was unlawful. Now the Senator, his company and his political cronies have won. And the forests and animals of Samar have lost. As have the 1 million people inhabiting the island.

The government has declared it illegal to cut down a one year old sapling to use as firewood to cook the food of a poor family and legal for a multimillion dollar company to plunder one of the last remaining primary tropical forests in the Philippines. The government should rethink what and who they are really trying to protect.



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Kat Birch

Kat Birch, The Philippines

meddahi | Sep 11th, 2007
Poet self Mdahi holiday Tuesday, September 11, 2007 This poem from long Sea If the language of the nation cared / / crafts distinguish good meteor Given the culture of advanced science / / Ftnejo affairs of Alanattab If developed mentality will rise tomorrow / / boy sterility affects of depression How stewardship which Bamth / / sponsored order subscription Krakb boat waves hampered / / grandparents above them much tortured Impressed with the boy wonder people gospel / / cynically Emsegha Balaatap If one apart from the Humane / / broadside he fillings insults We have even imagined of thirst / / Mirage pool oasis of drink Seen from the shadows and Arva Nkhilha / / What is the only Hage and Mirage Ahatha and had been reflected from the sand / / Freet them from approaching The creative writer does not have salute / / platforms nation despite Admonition As defined on that might distinguish / / mixing between Alemtemen book The ignorance in the land by the camp / / As far tents night fog Why not support the pupils before / / perceptions lost in vain in the sand Why not appreciate the loving hearts / / flowers, which disperse Despite the Odds Our guide Rahika of Shahid / / Itrishveh after it is played What poetry only source of water had heart / / governance which came correctness Every question find answer / / tomorrow after the effort of young minds Each talents can not / / unswerving desire of attraction Attiya talents mocked before / / embryos to be Balantjab That Fadlallah; before / / one sees blesses approaching Nor heeded including discouraging Mwahba / / go to their Kalshab This new poem containing the 40th house of poetry balanced Ahdiha to the whole world Estimated literary works of the human mind it is estimated that respects creative minds In all the critical areas that benefit all of humankind The poetry good reason to Makarim, morality, love and tolerance among the people He felt that should Redgrave's even a small gesture of organizations dealing with global literature and I hope my critics and poets that do little To Mohpti Poetic which suffer from lack of funding because I have the material obtained at the Postgraduate Certificate enable me to work there - I do this heavy talent You appreciate that very well, I need to continue to aid logical literary I do not want palaces and tall high-class cars But I want to recognize my Khar and some material assistance Because the debt accumulated me Is Assistant Thank poet self Mdahi FEAST

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