Illegal Logging in the Philippines

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Filipinos are known for being close family oriented. Every weekend, members of the family gather together to share experiences, problems and successes in their daily activities. Our family is not an exemption, we usually have a small "salo-salo" every Sunday and talk about memorable events that transpired during the week. One occasion, my grandmother shared an exciting experience to us. She told us that when she was still young her place was very beautiful. She lived in Tanay, Rizal where the heavily forested Sierra Madre Mountain Range is located. Every morning, the cold breeze of fresh air and the sound of flowing river beside there home awaken her. How I wish I could experience living in such a paradise! This remains a dream for me, for you and for the future generations.

According to the holy bible, "Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward." This observation of Prophet Job is correct that human species is born unto trouble. On all sides of the world, we see violence, poverty, graft and corruption, pollution, deforestation, overpopulation, and so on, endlessly. We wonder what brought the world and the humankind into this deplorable condition. This prompted me to write this paper on one of the crucial environmental problem that we are facing: illegal logging.

Forests in the tropics have a rich biodiversity. More than fifty percent of all the plants and animals in the world are to be found in the rainforests. More than 3500 species of plants and animals! The constantly high temperatures and the continuously high humidity in the tropics make this biodiversity possible. The temperature is in most tropical rainforests between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, the forests are threatened. David Orr correctly observed that “ if today is a typical day on planet earth, we will lose about 30,000 hectares of rainforests, or 1200 hectares per hour, or 21 hectares per minute.” Worldwide only twenty percent of the original tropical forests is left. The deforestation has to be stopped to save the biodiversity and the productivity of the forest as a natural resource. If not, there will be no rainforest left in 2015.

What is illegal logging? Illegal logging is not always a clearly defined term, but can be described as forestry practices or activities connected with wood harvesting, processing and trade that do not conform to law. According to the Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia, "Illegal logging is the harvest, transportation, purchase or sale of timber in violation of national laws. The harvesting procedure itself may be illegal, including using corrupt means to gain access to forests; extraction without permission or from a protected area; the cutting of protected species; or the extraction of timber in excess of agreed limits." Illegalities occur right through the chain from source to consumer, the harvesting procedure itself may be illegal, including corrupt means to gain access to forests, extraction without permission or from a protected area, cutting of protected species or extraction of timber in excess of agreed limits. Illegalities may also occur during transport, including illegal processing and export as well as misdeclaration to customs, before the timber enters the legal market. We can separate "illegal logging" in three main situations. First in line are activities with pure criminal nature. This includes logging without official permissions, timber theft, falsification of documents, usage of violence against local inhabitants, gross law violation by authorities and corruption. Next are mass illegal activities in forest by poor people, looking for satisfaction of their basic needs - food and fuel. Some of these practices are forest infringement, forest conversion for agricultural usage and illegal trafficking. Last are activities due to lack of law enforcement.

Unlawful cutting of trees has devastating impact on the world’s forest. Its effects includes declination of forest resources which...
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