Edition 6, July 2007

NOTE 1: The notation (SU2) means that the information is used in the author's study of sustainability of the global productivity of food- and fiber production systems.


(6-A) - Politics, General - [A1] Global, [A2] Alaska, [A3] Canada, [A4] Latin America, [A5]~Southeast Asia, [A6] US,
(6-B) - Politics-Subsidies - [B1] General, [B2] Alaska, [B3] Amazon Basin, [B4] Canada, [B5]~ South America, [B6] Europe, [B7]~Southeast Asia, [B8] US, [B9] Soviet Union (former) ,
(6-C) - Forest Law - [C1] Africa, [C2] Asian Sub-Continent, [C3] Southeast Asia, [C4] Oceania, [C5] US, [C6]~ South America
(6-D) - History - [D1] Global, [D2] Africa, [D3] China, [D4] Easter Island, [D5] Europe, [D6] Latin America, [D7] Asian Sub-Continent, [D8]-Middle East, [D9] North America,
(6-E) - Illegal/ Corrupt Practices - [E1] Global, [E2] Developing World, [E3] South America, [E4]~ Southeast Asia, [E5] Africa, [E6] Asian Sub-Continent, [E7] Oceania, [E8] US, [E9] Russia,
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SECTION (6-A) - Forest Politics in General - [A1] Global, [A2] Alaska, [A3] Canada, [A4] Latin America , [A5] Southeast Asia , [A6] US,

[A1] - Forest Politics - Global -

Tropical forest land-ownership issues are discussed in detail in Ref. (93D2).

The UN FAO, the leading forestry agency in the UN, has reduced its budget allocation to forestry from 5% in 1975 to 3% today (95M2).

[A2] - Forest Politics - Alaska -

In the 1950s the USFS signed two 50-year contracts with private companies that dedicated large swaths of Tongass N.F. to the production of dissolving pulp (used to make nylon and other cellulose products) (97D2). In the late 1980s congressional investigators uncovered rampant waste and abuse in the USFS's administration of Tongass N.F. pulp contracts. This waste was largely the result of language that had been added to the 1980 Alaska National Interest Land and Conservation Act. Congress threw in the directive to the USFS to supply the timber industry in Alaska with 4.5 billion b.f. of timber over the next 10 years. (For comparison, credible current estimates peg the sustainable yield of the Tongass N.F. at 0.075-0.15 billion bf./ year) It also created a $40 million fund to help the USFS put up timber sales on the Tongass, and exempted the money from the review that would normally occur when Congress appropriated the funds every year (97D2). In 1990 Congress passed the Tongass Timber Reform Act that eliminated the mandatory timber sales targets and did away with the $40 million/ year subsidy (97D2).

[A3] - Forest Politics - Canada -

MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. plans to eliminate clear-cutting on the lands it harvests in the Western Canadian provinces, and to sharply restrict cutting in "old-growth" forests. "In many parts of the world where we do business, a growing body of public opinion views conventional old-growth clearcutting as unacceptable" according to an internal MacMillan document (Wall Street Journal, 6/10 and 11/98).

In 1947, L.R. Andrews of British Columbia Lumber Manufacturers Association urged all governments in the British Empire to abandon sustained yield policies for 10 years in order to "alleviate lumber shortages" (p. 90 of (83S1)).

In June of 1997, the Canadian government eased the Forest Practices Code as a result of pressures from industry (which was massively violating the Code anyway) (98A1)).

Official Canadian estimates of "Annual Allowable Cut" (AAC) are not based on sustainable forest management. In addition, problems with "non-transparent" (closed to public view) AAC calculations and questionable inventory data used in calculating AAC have led some researchers to conclude that Canada's AAC calculations are merely political exercises (99N1).

Anderson and Bonsor (1981) and Baskerville (1986) (both in (99N1)) show that the use of "acceleration factors" in the allowable depletion in Ontario (Canada) has resulted in short-term over-harvesting that, coupled with poor regeneration success, contributes to long-term wood-supply decline (99N1).

[A4] - Forest Politics - Latin America -

In Latin America as a whole, 7% of the landowners control 93% of the arable land (83N1).

[A4a] - Forest Politics - Latin America - Bolivia -

Breaking up the "landfundia" in the Bolivian highlands in the early 1950s exacerbated deforestation and erosion (76E1).

[A4b] - Forest Politics - Latin America - Chile -

The government is attempting to weaken national forest law, while entering international trade agreements to expand exports which are 90% based on Chile's shrinking natural resources (97H2).

[A4c] - Forest Politics - Latin America - Mexico -

The Sierra Madre Occidental old-growth stands was the target of a 1989 World Bank Loan to Mexico of $45.5 million for a logging and forest-management project. The plan, to log over 4 billion board feet of lumber from 81,000 km2 of forest over 6.5 years, was ostensibly to help Mexico correct its trade deficit by reducing its dependence on imported paper pulp (90M5).

[A4d] - Forest Politics - Latin America - Guatemala -

In Guatemala, 2.2% of the population owns 70% of the agricultural land (83N1).

[A5] - Forest Politics - Southeast Asia -
[A5a] - Forest Politics - Southeast Asia - Burma (Myanmar) -

The military dictatorship has sold rights to 80-90% of the nation's virgin hardwood forest to Thai logging interests controlled by Thai military officers (91U6).

[A5b] - Forest Politics - Southeast Asia - Cambodia -

The Khmer Rouge awarded concessions to Thai companies to remove 1 million m3 of hardwoods from Cambodia over the next 4 years (93U1).

[A5c] - Forest Politics - Southeast Asia - Indonesia -

Areas under concessions to loggers exceed the total area of Indonesia's production forests (90R1).

[A6] - Forest Politics - US -

Few forest thinning projects have been stalled by citizen appeals. Environmentalists and others objected to some clearing projects, but the USFS proceeded on 95% of its projects within 90 days. More than 75% of the 762 wildfire-protection projects proposed by the Forest Service were never challenged. Only 3% of the projects were litigated. The "Healthy Forests" measure would limit environmental review, appeals and challenges on logging and brush-clearing projects. It would affect 20 million acres of forests, mostly in the West. Republicans argue that endless appeals and challenges have slowed efforts to thin dense underbrush and thick stands of forests that have developed after a century of fire suppression. Seven groups filed at least 20 administrative appeals: the Alliance for Wild Rockies, Ecology Center, Forest Conservation Council, Lands Council, National Forest Protection Alliance, Oregon Natural Resources Council and the Sierra Club, but used court challenges in only 23 out of the 762 projects ("Appeals Don't Stall Most Forest Thinning Projects 95% of Wildfire Protection Projects on Target, GAO Says", San Francisco Chronicle, 5/15/03).

On Bitterroot National Forest (Montana) two district rangers stated that, at present harvest rates, timber supplies on their district would be gone in 5 and 10 years. Many other district rangers seemed to have similar concerns - so many that then-Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz sent regional foresters a terse memorandum commanding them and their subordinates to keep quiet publicly about their misgivings (75B1).

A Common Cause report of around 12/16/97 stated that the timber industry contributed over $8 million in campaign contributions since 1991 to defeat proposals to curtail construction of logging roads in national forests. Conservation organizations spent $840,000 to eliminate the USFS road-purchase credit program that reimburses timber companies for road-building costs with credits that can be used to bid on new timber sales.

Federal politicians receive over $1 million/ year in campaign contributions from the timber industry according to the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington DC-based non-partisan group (World Watch, 8(5) (1995) p. 2).

The extreme political pressures to raise timber-harvest rates in the Pacific northwest are documented in a New York Times article by Timothy Egan, 9/16/91.

Forest supervisors would have the authority to depart from non-declining even-flow without consulting the public or amending a forest plan that calls for even-flow according to forest planning regulations proposed by the Reagan Administration. (R. O'Toole, Forest Planning, 2(11) March 1982).

SECTION (6-B) - Forest Politics - Subsidies - [B1] General, [B2] Alaska, [B3] Amazon Basin, [B4] Canada, [B5] South America, [B6] Europe, [B7] Southeast Asia, [B8] US, [B9] Soviet Union (former)

[B1] - Subsidies - General -

Economist Robert Repetto of World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington DC has documented the worldwide occurrence of government subsidies that encourage destructive logging at taxpayers' expense (90R2).

Except for New Zealand, nearly every country in the world subsidizes its timber industry. (Forest Watch, 10/91) Comments: Subsidies, claim Forest Watch authors, create a glut of wood on the market, which lowers prices and reduces the incentive for private owners to manage timber on a sustainable basis. They see subsidies as a major threat to the future of the world's forests.

[B2] - Subsidies - Alaska -

US taxpayers subsidize Tongass National Forest logging by about $20 million/ year, according to USFS estimates. This logging supports 298 jobs. During 1988-97 total employment in this region of Alaska grew by 25%, in large part because of Tongass-based recreation and tourism. The forest products industry now provides 3.4% of the region's jobs (Letter to the Editor, Wall Street Journal, 12/19/00).

Two unusually long-term (50+ years) contracts provided non-competitive monopolies to two pulp mill companies for enormous amounts (13.3 billion board feet) of timber from Tongass National Forest. These 1950s-era contracts gave direct subsidies for road building and other timber-related expenses, plus huge volumes of federal timber at prices averaging as low as $1.48/ thousand board-feet (94D4).

The most egregious example of below-cost timber sales in the National Forest system is the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. From FY82-88, the USFS spent $389 million on the Tongass timber program and received $32 million in total receipts. Of the receipts, only $3.9 million represented actual revenue to the Treasury - $24.4 million went to "purchaser road credits," deducting the value of roads constructed to harvest the timber from the purchaser's bill, with the remaining funds going to other local and on-forest uses. Throughout the 1980's, the US Treasury averaged over $50.5 million in average annual losses from Tongass NF timber sales. ("Amending the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, to Designate Certain Lands in the Tongass National Forest as Wilderness, and for Other Purposes," Comm. on Interior and Insular Affairs, HR Rpt. 101-84, Part I, 101st Cong., 1st Session, 6/13/89) The USFS interpreted section 705(a) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act as a mandate to provide 450 million board feet of timber annually, regardless of the actual market demand. Section 705(a) also established a permanent appropriation of "at least" $40 million annually in subsidies to the Tongass timber program (94D4).

A 1995 US General Accounting Office report shows that, between 1992-94, the Tongass National Forest Timber Program lost more than $102 million (Alaska Chapter, Sierra Club, Tongass appeal of 7/96).

Tongass National Forest (Alaska) lost $30.6 million in 1996 (Wilderness Society report of around 1/8/98).

Much deforestation is accomplished through government subsidies, including $35 million in 1993 for the Tongass National Forest, a rainforest being depleted through over-logging more rapidly than most rain-forests in Amazonia or Borneo (Ref. 11 of (95M2)).

One million acres (4000 km2) of Tongass National Forest (Alaska) has been clearcut - much of it pulped for rayon, cellophane and disposables. Taxpayer-financed subsidies for logging in the Tongass in 1992 were $64 million. Old-growth giant trees are being sold for $1-2 each (94A1).

The USFS directly subsidizes logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest, one of the last temperate rain forests in the world. Subsidies meet 98% of the cost of logging in the forest, and without this government support the companies involved would simply go bankrupt or pull out (90E1).

In 1988 the USFS spent $58 million to put up Tongass timber, but took in only $3.3 million in receipts (97D2). In May 1989, the New York Times reported that the USFS was selling massive Sitka spruce trees from the Tongass for about $2/tree (97D2).

Since the passage of the Alaskan National Interest Lands Act in 1980, the USFS has lost about $250 million on timber sales from Tongass National Forest (Barry R. Flamin, Public Lands (Sierra Club), 4(1)).

In 1991 Tongass National Forest in Alaska counted 80% of all benefits from timber cutting as benefits to fisheries (94D4).

[B3] - Subsidies - Amazon Basin -

A World Bank study noted that ranching would be unprofitable in the Amazon Basin without government subsidies. A typical cattle ranch sustains fewer people than could the original forest (89L1).

Amazon-Basin cattle-ranching is demonstrably unprofitable. Ranches stay in the black only through generous government tax breaks and subsidized credit, along with revenues from land speculation (89D2).

Subsidies for cattle ranching in Brazilian Amazonia caused commercial timber losses of $2.5 billion/ year during the mid-1980s (Ref. 12 of (95M2)).

1987 may have been a year of an anomalously high rate of deforestation in the Amazon basin because it was the last year that government tax credits were available to landowners who cleared their Amazon holdings, and many landowners may have rushed to gain the advantage while they could (90W1). Also the Brazilian legislature was discussing taking unimproved land as part of a land-reform effort (90W1).

By 1980, ranching accounted for over 72% of Brazil's forest clearing. The economic value of beef produced covered only 55% of the government subsidies for ranching. Total financial loss was $2.9 billion (88R2).

A World Bank study revealed that Brazil's implicit subsidy to livestock ranches for replacing rain-forest amounted to $1 billion between 1975-86. This subsidy came from a package of inept policies (90E1):

Up to 75% of the cost of investment in a ranch can be recouped in government tax credits, making ranching more profitable.

The International Monetary Fund partly paid for the "Polonoroesta Plan" in Brazil, which aimed to develop 259,000 km2 of tropical forest for use by small farmers (90E1).

[B4] - Subsidies - Canada -

Canadian provinces sell timber rights to Canadian mills at below-market prices (Greenberger and Tamburri, Wall Street Journal, 2/20/96)

The government of Ontario offers "free" advice, harvesting services and tax breaks for those joining a "Woodlot Improvement Plan" (90E1).

British Columbia subsidizes the timber industry by $7 billion/ year (99A2).

[B5] - Subsidies - South America -
[B5a] - Subsidies - South America - Chile -

Tree plantations receive exorbitant government subsidies while no incentives exist for native reforestation and sustainable forestry (97H2).

[B6] - Subsidies - Europe -
[B6a] - Subsidies - Europe - Finland -

The government of Finland uses tax incentives to induce harvesting (90E1).

[B6b] - Subsidies - Europe - Sweden -

The government requires private forest owners to harvest at least half of their trees within a decade of maturity (90E1).

[B7] - Subsidies - Southeast Asia -
[B7a] - Subsidies - Southeast Asia - Indonesia -

In 1970 Indonesia's President Suharto awarded generous timber concessions to foreign logging companies, and declared 5-year income-tax holidays, many of which were extended to 15 years. During 1970-84 the companies harvested 285 million m3 of raw logs, and deforested 7000 km2/ year by the end of the period, making a profit of about $67/ m3 in 1984 dollars (95R1).

Indonesia lost $2.5 billion on its 1990 timber sales program (99A1).

Indonesia subsidizes forest exploitation by $1-3 billion/ year (99A2).

[B7b] - Subsidies - Southeast Asia - Philippines -

Covert subsidies in the form of government's under-valuation of forest resources, led to revenue losses of $250 million in 1987. Much the same has applied in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Ivory Coast (Ref. 12 of (95M2)).

[B8] - Subsidies - US (except Alaska - see above) -

The western region (3) of the US Forest Service (Arizona and New Mexico) is one of the most unprofitable timber regions of the US. In 1991 Region 3 lost over $23 million on its timber program. On many forests in Region 3, no timber sales returned a profit (92S3).

Worldwide, subsidies worth at least $650 billion, equivalent to 9% of all government revenues, support logging, mining, oil drilling, livestock grazing, farming (including irrigation), fishing, energy consumption and driving (99R2) (98R2) (94U3).

In 1997, the US Forest Service reported a loss of $88 million. According to a 3/6/01 report, Timber Sale Program Information and Reporting System (TSPIRS), the Forest Service lost $126 million as a result of money-losing logging operations in the national forests. The USFS's timber sale program generated $546 million in FY1998, but the program cost $672 million to operate. The loss equals a $2,200 subsidy/ timber job. General Accounting Office (GAO) reports have estimated the losses to be much higher than the USFS figure - approximately $2 billion between 1992-97 (01T1).

Timber sales from US federal lands have turned a profit in only 3 of the past 100 years, yet Congress repeatedly mandates higher harvest levels (98A2).

According to GAO, USFS lost $995 million in its timber program between 1992-94. According to White House Council of Economic Advisors, the USFS lost $234 million in 1995. The GAO accused the USFS of routinely hiding timber-sales expenses with questionable accounting methods, e.g amortizing logging roads over hundreds of years - 1800 years in one case (Audubon, Jan-Feb. 1998, p. 24).

In 1944, the Sustained Yield Forest Management Act authorized USFS and BLM to establish "sustained yield units," where access to timber sales would be restricted to a limited region to maintain local community stability. Restricting sales to only local mills means that there is less competition for timber, resulting in lower prices. USFS has established only a handful of these sustained yield units (94D4).

The Tongass Timber Reform Act of 1990 attempted to reduce the timber-sales subsidy by setting over a million acres of old-growth off limits to timber harvest, terminating the permanent appropriation for the timber program, and providing for changes in the terms of the two long-term contracts. Incomplete implementation of these reforms meant that in 1992 the Tongass was still the largest money-loser in the National Forest system, costing $29 million in below-cost sales. (USDA USFS, "Timber Sale Program Annual Report: FY 1992 (Forest Level Information)," 2/26/93) An economic consultant retained by environmental groups found the actual loss to the Treasury to be $64 million. (See Randal O'Toole, "The 64 Million Dollar Question: How Taxpayers Pay Pulp Mills to Clearcut the Tongass National Forest," Cascade Holistic Environmental Consultants, Oak Grove, Oregon, 3/93) In April 1994, the USFS terminated the 50-year contract with Alaska Pulp Corporation, and moved toward competitive bidding in that company's timber sale area. The second long-term contract, held by Ketchikan Pulp Company (Louisiana Pacific), extends through 2004; taxpayer subsidies will continue for as long as the contract remains in effect (94D4).

A Wilderness Society report of around 1/8/98 stated that the USFS's commercial logging program lost $204 million in 1996, and claimed that USFS accounting neglects many program expenses. $115.9 million of the loss was from below-cost timber sales in Washington and Oregon. Timber sales on Gifford Pinchot N.F. returned only 14 cents of every taxpayer dollar spent.

A USFS memorandum acknowledges that its timber sales program costs taxpayers $15 million. The GAO reported in 1995 that the accumulative losses to the Treasury by the USFS timber program totaled nearly $1 billion between 1992-94 (11/21 Washington Post article).

On the Shelton Unit in Olympic Nat. Forest, timber is typically sold at appraised prices. Sales outside Shelton Unit go for 10%-50% above appraised prices (94D4).

In 1995 USFS lost $455 million in logging national forests (97B1).

US subsidies for below-cost timber sales amounted to $323 million in 1993 (Ref. 11 of (95M2)).

In 1993-94 the USFS lost $800 million selling off timber (97B1).

109 US national forests, accounting for 80% of national forest wood output, lost money on timber sales in 1992 (a $499 million loss to taxpayers) (93D2).

During the 1980s, the US reportedly lost $5.6 billion on below-cost timber sales from national forests (WorldWatch, 8(5) (1995) p. 2).

The total cost to US taxpayers of USFS timber sales below cost is far in excess of $50 million/ year, and may exceed $100 million/ year during 1975-79 (80C1). Marion Clawson (Resources for the Future) estimates a loss of $1 billion/ year before 1990 (80C1).

US taxpayers subsidize road building in national forests with a $100 million/ year subsidy. (The effort to eliminate timber road subsidies fell one vote short in the early summer of 1997.) National Forests contain 377,000 miles of roads. Federal subsidies for road building has allowed logging in areas where unsubsidized costs would be prohibitive (Pittsburgh Post Gazette editorial of 9/13/97).

The USFS spent $234 million more in services to logging companies than it made from the sale of timber cut on public land in 1995, White House Economic advisors said (Wall St. Journal, 2/19/97).

Logging in national forests cost taxpayers $398 million more than the Treasury got from 1995 timber sales, the Wilderness Society said. The USFS said such sales turned a $59 million profit. The Wilderness Society argued that the USFS doesn't account for road costs and payments to counties (Wall St. Journal, 2/6/97).

It costs taxpayers $50,000/ year to maintain a single timber-related job in Gallatin N.F.(MT). (John Baden and Pete Geddes, Wall Street Journal, 5/22/96).

During 1979-84, all of Idaho's 10 national forests lost money. The total Idaho N.F. loss averaged $16.5 million/ year during 1979-84 (R. Johnson, Public Lands (Sierra Club) 4(3), Oct. 1986).

During 1975-84, the USFS spent $2.1 billion more on growing and harvesting trees than it received in payments (Peter Emerson, Land Letter (Sierra Club), 3(4), Dec. 1995).

Over 12,000 km2 of pinon-juniper forest have been chained (removed) by the BLM (90E1). Comments: Pinon-juniper "forests" result from over-grazing of rangelands. They are Nature's attempt to recover from the damages created by over-grazing.

Some forest activists have attempted to calculate the extent of below-cost sales by the USFS by re-evaluating the TSPIRS data. One evaluation of timber sales in FY90 determined that "only 22 of the 120 forests made a positive contribution to the treasury." (Richard E. Rice, "Taxpayer Losses from National Forest Timber Sales, FY 1990," The Wilderness Society, Washington DC, 5/91) Others used independent analysis to reach the similar conclusions that in FY90 "out of 120 forests, only 21 returned more timber receipts to the Treasury than they spent on timber," (Cascade Holistic Economic Consultants (Randal O'Toole), "Growing Timber Deficits: Review of the USFS's 1990 Budget and Timber Sale Program," Research Paper 23, 4/91) or that for 1983-91 "over 100 of 22 National Forests have such low value timber and earmark so much of the timber receipts that they could not cover their appropriated costs with the balance left after earmarking." Due to the constraints in available data, each of these analysts evaluated below-cost sales only on a forest-by-forest, not sale-by-sale, basis. A GAO analysis of sale-by-sale data found that in FY91 the USFS failed to recover $87.9 million in operating costs associated with 262,000 timber sales. (General Accounting Office, Testimony, "USFS Needs to Improve Efforts to Protect the Government's Financial Interests and Reduce Below-Cost Timber Sales," GAO/T-RCED-91-42, 4/24/91) (94D4).

In 1991 the Arizona and New Mexico national forests counted over 75% of all benefits from timber cutting as benefits to recreation (94D4).

USFS Reforestation costs are amortized over hundreds of years, and road maintenance costs and failed reforestation costs are ignored completely. In addition, expenses for restoring watersheds are not treated as costs of timber sales, even though they may involve taking out the very roads beds previously constructed for timber sales and accounted for as capital improvements to the forests. Even if all these sale-specific expenses were included, TSPIRS would still fail to account for USFS overhead and the costs of research and development to improve forest growth and reforestation results (94D4).

Over 50% of the costs of timber roads are never counted as expenses of the timber sale. Instead, these costs-attributable to the cost of creating the roadbed - are written off completely as "capital improvements" to the forest. In other words, building roads into roadless areas for the sole purpose of taking out timber is deemed a capital improvement that benefits the forest in general, not the timber purchaser (94D4).

USFS has an accounting system designed to identify below-cost timber sales - the Timber Sale Program Information Reporting System (TSPIRS). Since this reporting system was developed at Congressional behest in the late 1980s, it has engendered far more controversy than information. TSPIRS verified that over 50% of the National Forests - 65 of 122 - lost money on timber sales in FY90. Using revised TSPIRS methodology, the USFS reported that 82 forests lost money on below-cost sales in FY92. (USDA USFS, "Timber Sale Program Annual Report: Fiscal Year 1992 (Forest Level Information)," 2/26/93) GAO found in 1991 that over 50% of total non-recovered preparation and administration costs on large sales occurred on above-cost forests (General Accounting Office, Testimony, "USFS Needs to Improve Efforts to Reduce Below-Cost Timber Sales," GAO/T-RCED-91-43, 4/25/91) (94D4).

BLM has an explicit policy to permit below-cost sales only when necessary to salvage damaged timber or meet other forest management needs. 2% of 1988 BLM sales reviewed by GAO were offered at a price lower than the preparation and administration costs of the sale, and only one sale was eventually sold below those costs. GAO noted, however, that it could not verify this data independently, due to BLM's uncertain accounting systems (94D4).

A 1990 report of the General Accounting Office found that almost 40% of the USFS timber sales studied were offered at an appraised price lower than a limited set of expenses for preparing and administering the sale. (General Accounting Office, Report to Congressional Requesters, "Federal Timber Sales: Process for Appraising Timber Offered for Sale Needs to Be Improved," GAO/RCED-90-135, 5/90) GAO pointed out that its analysis excluded other timber-growing and overhead expenses; if the additional expenses were included, a higher percentage of USFS sales would fail to recover their costs (94D4).

The USFS does not consider the costs of a sale in appraising the sale and setting a minimum bid. The General Accounting Office recommended in 1991 that this practice be changed, but no action has been taken (General Accounting Office Testimony "USFS Needs to Improve Efforts to Reduce Below-Cost Timber Sales," GAO/T-RCED-91-43, 4/25/91).

A report (94D4) describes the complex web of overlapping and sometimes contradictory benefits (subsidies) (price supports, tax breaks, low-cost loans and exemptions from environmental laws) given in mineral extraction, irrigation water, hydropower, timber, grazing and recreation.

From 1992-94, the US timber sales program lost $1 billion in direct costs (excluding reforestation costs, stream erosion, lost fisheries, water-supply degradation, etc.) (99A1).

The US government gives the forest industry $811 million/ year in tax breaks (99A2).

The Wilderness Society, on 2/8/99, issued a report finding commercial logging programs cost taxpayers $45 million in 1997. Out of 104 national forest units, 83 operated at a loss. The report singled out the Tongass National Forest in Alaska as the biggest money-loser. Taxpayers were held up for $42 million while ancient spruce and hemlock were clearcut. Other top money-losing national forests: Kootenai (MT); Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie (WA); Winema and Malheur (OR); Nez Perce, Boise, Clearwater, and Payette (ID); and North Carolina.

[B9] - Subsidies - Soviet Union (former) -

In the former Soviet Union, legal and recorded wood production dropped by 2/3 during 1990-96. Part of the reason was that the government eliminated huge transportation subsidies, without which it is not economically feasible to log remote interior regions (98A2).

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(6B) Top of this Section-Politics-Subsidies
(6TC) Top of this Chapter-Forest Politics, Law, and History
(7) Top of this Review's Appendices (Units, Conversions, Definitions)
(8) Top this Review's Reference List
(DF) Forest Land Degradation: A Global Perspective (Table of Contents)
(T) Title Page of this entire web site (visit early)
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SECTION (6-C) - Forest Law - [C1] Africa, [C2] Asian Sub-Continent, [C3] Southeast Asia, [C4] Oceania, [C5] US, [C6]~ South America

[C1] - Forest Law - Africa -

The government of Ghana has placed a ban on all exports of raw logs, beginning in 1994. From that day, all timber exports have to be processed into sawn wood or furniture parts. Several operators in the industry doubt whether the ban will be enforced since there are important (political) interests in the logging business (97U2).

[C2] - Forest Law - Asian Sub-Continent -

[C2a] - Forest Law - Asian Sub-Continent - India -

Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandi called a halt to logging in India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, 1000 miles off India's southeast coast. These forests cover 18,100 km2 (89U2).

[C3] - Forest Law - Southeast Asia -

According to a WWF report, 70% of all trees cut in Indonesia are felled without a permit. "Lauan" (trade name for tropical hardwood from Indonesia and Malaysia) accounts for 80% of all tropical timber sold in the US (01U2).

Countries such as Thailand and the Philippines have imposed bans on natural forest harvesting (03M1). Although illegal logging and shifting cultivation continue, it should be expected that ultimately the profits of plantation establishment and natural regeneration would outweigh those of defying the bans (03M1).

[C3a] - Forest Law - Southeast Asia - Indonesia -

Indonesia announced a 28% cut in timber output to 22.5 million m3 over the next 5 years (94H1). Shrinkage of Indonesia's forests have caused floods, drought, and consequent reductions in rice production (94H1).

Indonesia's government outlawed raw-log exports in 1985 (98A1).

[C3b] - Forest Law - Southeast Asia - Malaysia -

Malaysia has adopted policies to encourage domestic timber processing, and to phase out the export of raw logs (96F1).

[C3c] - Forest Law - Southeast Asia - Thailand -

A 11/88 40-inch rainfall caused landslides from deforested hillsides, which cost 40,000 people their homes (90R1). This caused the Thai government to ban all commercial logging, and revoke all 301 logging concessions (90W1) (90R3). Enforcement of this ban has been lethally dangerous to enforcement officials, and compromised by bribes to public officials (Wall Street Journal, 10/7/93).

[C3d] - Forest Law - Southeast Asia - Vietnam -

In August 1993 the Vietnam Ministry of Commerce issued a provisional blanket ban on the exports of wood products. The order was issued in response to evidence that the regulations on cutting and exporting timber were being widely flouted. In the first 6 months of 1993, 50,710 m3 of illegally cut timber were seized (95H1).

[C4] - Forest Law - Oceania -

New Guinea's Forestry Act of 1991 is being amended to give the National Executive Council the power to stop excessive logging of the country's rainforests (97U3).

Amendments have been added to the Vanuatu (a South Pacific island) constitution to place a permanent ban on log exports (97U3).

Several log-export bans and punitive taxes of up to 70% on raw log exports are aimed at bringing Solomon Islands deforestation under control (97U3).

[C5] - Forest Law - United States -

Ref. (77A1) gives a history of Oregon's Forest Conservation laws. Commercial forestland in Oregon = 104,000 km2 (467 billion bf. of harvestable timber).

The McSweeney-McNary Act of 1928 called for the Secretary of Agriculture to maintain a current census of forestlands and products, and an analysis of national supply-demand relationships with respect to forest products (76B1).

Federal laws relating to Forest Service Planning (as listed in "Forest Planning Costs at the Boise and Clearwater National Forests in Idaho, Oct. 1986" GAO/RCED-87-28FS)
General Mining Laws of 1866 and 1872
Creative Act of 1891
Forest Management Acts of 1897, 1899 and 1901
Antiquities Act of 1906
Twenty-Five Percent Fund (Act of 5/23/1908)
Weeks Law of 1911
Road and Trails Fund (Act of 3/4/1913)
Deposits from Brush Disposal (Act of 8/11/1916)
Mineral Lands Leasing Act of 1920
Clarke-McNary Act of 1924
Knutson-Vandenberg Act of 1930
Historic Sites Buildings and Antiquities Act of 1935
Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act of 1937
Sustained Yield Forest Management Act of 1944
Material Disposal Act of 1947 as amended 1955
Mineral Leasing Act for Acquired Lands (1947)
National Forest Reforestation and Revegetation Act of 1949
Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1958
Multiple-Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960
Wilderness Act of 1964
National Forest Service Roads and Trails Act of 1964
National Historic Preservation Act of 1966
National Trails System Act of 1968
Department of Transportation Act of 1968
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969
Clean Air Act of 1970
Wild and Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971
Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972
Endangered Species Act of 1973
National Forest Transportation Systems Act of 1974
Sikes Act, as amended 1974
Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resource Planning Act of 1974
Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974
Federal Coal Leasing Amendments Act of 1975
National Forest Management Act of 1976
Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976
Clean Water Act of 1977
Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977
Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978
Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979
Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980
Federal Timber Contract Modification Act of 1984

[C6] - Forest Law - South America -

Brazil's government tightened rules on mahogany logging in the Amazon to make all harvesting of the wood dependent on sustainable development. Brazil had already banned logging of mahogany on fears that its Amazon reserves would disappear in a few years. Brazil accounts for half of the world's mahogany, used to make musical instruments and furniture. Shipments of Brazilian mahogany have been refused entry into countries like Britain and the US on suspicions that the wood, which can fetch up to $1500 per 10.76 square feet in markets like Japan and Britain, was illegally cut ("Brazil Tightens Rules on Mahogany Logging", Planet Ark, 6/9/03).

Brazil granted enforcement authority to its environmental agency in 1998 after stalling for 9 years. A few months later that authority was repealed (99A1).

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(6C) Top of this Section-Forest Law
(6TC) Top of this Chapter-Forest Politics, Law, and History
(7) Top of this Review's Appendices (Units, Conversions, Definitions)
(8) Top this Review's Reference List
(DF) Forest Land Degradation: A Global Perspective (Table of Contents)
(T) Title Page of this entire web site (visit early)
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SECTION (6-D) - Forest History - [D1] Global, [D2] Africa, [D3] China, [D4] Easter Island, [D5] Europe, [D6] Latin America, [D7]~ Asian Sub-Continent, [D8] Middle East, [D9] North America,

[D1] - Forest History - Global -

The French philosopher Chateau-briand said: "The forests come before civilization, the deserts after them" (Ref. 17 of (78B1)).

The world's vegetation prior to wide-spread human disturbance may have been distributed as follows (James, 1935): Tropical forest 13%, boreal forest 9%, mid-latitude mixed forest 7%, Mediterranean scrub forest 1%, dry land 17%, grass-land 19%, mountains 18%, polar 16% (56G2). Before the dawn of agriculture some 10,000 years ago, the Earth had 62 million km2 of forests and woodlands. Today the Earth has 41 million km2 (28 million km2 of closed forest, 13 million km2 of open woodlands). Shrub-land and forest regrowth on temporarily abandoned cropland brings the total area supporting woody vegetation to 52 million km2 (88P1).

25% of the world's land is forested; 20% is grassland; 10% is cropland; 40-45% is barren desert, polar, or high-mountain areas ((FAO data) (56G2)). Comments: Total land area of Earth (including ice-covered land) is 148 million km2, the figure used in the above statistics. However ice-free land occupies only 131 million km2.

Ref. (56S2) cites references supporting the contention that fire was commonly used to promote grazing, hunting and agriculture in Russia, Madagascar, French North Africa, South Africa, Rhodesia, the Congo, France, Switzerland, the Malay Peninsula, the Balkans, Mediterranean lands, tropical Africa, Indonesia and the US.

Forest Cover by Region (1000 km2) (98A2) (la)
Region- - -|Original|Remaining Closed Forest
- - - - - -|Forest |(frontier/non-frontier)
Africa ~ ~ | 6,799 |2,302
Asia ~ ~ ~ |15,132 |4,275
N. America |10,877 |8,483
Cent. Amer.| 1,779 | ~970
S. America | 9,736 |6,800
Europe ~ ~ | 4,690 |1,521
Russia ~ ~ |11,759 |8,083
Oceania~ ~ | 1,431 | ~929
World~ ~ ~ |62,203|33,363
Comments: Open forest inventory data elsewhere in this document - something on the order of 10 million km2.

[D2] - Forest History - Africa -

Ref. (56B1) supports the claim that much of the Central African equatorial forest has been converted to grassland by primitive agriculture, fire and grazing. By over-grazing and repeated burning, Man has moved the thornbush zone into grasslands and has encouraged the deterioration of thornbush land into desert (56B1).

At least 1/3 of sub-Saharan grassy savanna was once forest (Ref. 11 of (78B1)).

[D2a] - Forest History - Africa - Ethiopia -

The central highlands were occupied by people coming from the north around the 10th century AD. Now, much of the high forest cover has been replaced by brush, grass and scrub, and silt-choked rivers now flow erratically. Further south, the area occupation began more recently, so there are still forests, and streams run clean and constantly. Addis Ababa, in the central highlands, was founded in 1883 when it was surrounded by rich cedar forests and clear streams. Total deforestation occurred over the next 9 decades within a 100-mile radius of Addis Ababa. Now waters in nearby Awarh Basin are thick with mud, and waterways shift course more markedly and frequently than in the past. A UN research team fears the Awarh Basin may become a "rocky desert" (75E1).

[D2b] - History - Africa - Madagascar -

Deforestation in Madagascar began when it was annexed as a French colony in 1896. An uncertain political climate and famine followed this annexation, and many Malagasy fled to the woods for survival. These farmers started practicing shifting cultivation as a means of survival (93J1).

[D2c] - History - Africa - Morocco -

Ref. (60M1) gives maps of the forested region of northern Morocco as of 1960 and as of earlier times. It also gives a history of deforestation there. Clearly, fewer than 10% of Morocco's original forests remain (60M1).

[D3] - Forest History - China -

Clearing forests for agriculture was widespread during the Shang Dynasty beginning in 1600 BC (56C2).

[D4] - Forest History - Easter Island -

Fossilized pollen grains revealed that the island was heavily forested until the Polynesians settled there around 400 AD. When Europeans landed in the 18th Century, the island was treeless. Deforestation would have hastened soil erosion, lowering crop yields, and it would have eliminated dugout canoes vital for fishing (87B2).

[D5] - Forest History - Europe -

Timber supplies were an acute problem in Europe until around 1862 when the US Civil War ushered in ironclad ships (76E1).

In southern Europe, under Mediterranean conditions of climate and soil, forests were open in character, and composed of evergreen oaks and pines. Once cleared, they showed less regenerative power than did forests to the north; already by classical times, much of it seems to have disappeared, leaving behind scrub and bare ground exposed to soil erosion (56D1).

When the Mediterranean emerged from the confusion of the barbarian impact, woodlands were decimated by flocks of sheep - in Spain, France, the Apennines and the Balkans. The 15th and 16th Centuries were periods of "naked desolation". Smelting and ship-building took their toll, as did warfare (56D1).

Beginning in the 16h Century, the expanding needs of Renaissance societies spurred the clearing of large tracts of forest in western Europe (88P1).

Maps of forest cover of central Europe in 900 and 1900 AD are found in Ref. (56D1).

About 80% of central Europe was forested in AD 900, 25% by 1900 (79S1).

[D5a] - History - Europe - Balkans -

Utilization of forests for construction timber and marine products was active in the 1200s, with many areas depleted of forests by 1620 (56C2).

[D5b] - History - Europe - England -

The northern woodlands within easy reach of London could be described in the 12th century as "a great forest with wooded glades and lairs of wild beasts." (56D1).

Timber harvesting resulted in such a severe depletion of suitable trees that large-scale imports from the Baltic region were required by 1300 (56C2).

Though the forest of England (and Europe) stabilized or improved in the 14th and 15th Centuries, by 1548 timber shortages in England forced the calling of a government commission to address the problem. In the 17th Century, coal replaced charcoal, and in the 19th Century steel ships replaced wood ships (56D1).

[D5c] - History - Europe - France -

Forest cover in France has risen substantially from its historic low of 14% two centuries ago to about 25% today (Ref. 17 of (88P1)).

A map of forest-cover in 1920 in France is found in Ref. (56D1).

After the Revolution of 1789, peasants and wood merchants set upon the newly accessible forest reserves of the deposed feudal barons, destroying 35,000 km2 of forest in 4 year (76E1).

[D5d] - History - Europe - Greece -

Near the end of WWII, the hills near Athens were stripped of existing trees for firewood during an unusually cold winter. The high erosion of denuded soil can still be observed today (82S1).

Ref. (83S1) quotes Plato's lament in the 4th Century BC: "There are mountains in Attica (Athenian hinterlands) which can now keep nothing but bees, but which were clothed, not so very long ago, with fine trees producing timber suitable for roofing the largest buildings, and roofs hewn from their timber are still in existence. The annual supply of rainfall was not lost, as it is at present, through being allowed to flow over a denuded surface to the sea".

[D5e] - History - Europe - Italy -

Toward the end of the classical period in the economic crises that befell the Roman Empire during the 3rd and 4th Centuries AD, forest-clearing was halted, and forests recovered somewhat before the Goths and Vandals invaded (56D1).

Ref. (56S2) quotes a 1931 study by E. C. Semple: "Denudation of forests made such inroads upon Italy's wood supply that, by the 5th Century (AD?), Roman architectural techniques were modified to meet the growing scarcity and increased price of wood.

[D5f] - History - Europe - Turkey -

Forests containing cypress once covered Mt. Hasur in southeastern Turkey. The species still exists in remote mountains of nearby Iran (77W1). Mt. Hermon between Israel and Lebanon contained cedar forests during 745-626 BC. Today it is devoid of forest. Mt. Amanus lying to the north of Lebanon once held forests containing cedar. The lower slopes of Mt. Pelion on the Magnesian Peninsula of Thessaly once supported extensive forests (77W1). Comments: Deforestation in eastern Turkey is widely credited with causing the massive erosion sediments that silted in the irrigation systems of the Tigris and Euphrates River in what is now Iraq.

[D6] - History - Latin America -
[D6a] - History
- Latin America - Guatemala

The Mayan civilization in Guatemala's lowlands lasted from 800 BC to 900 AD and reached a population of 5 million. The area was almost totally deforested by AD 250 (81B2).

The Mayans required large amounts of lime stucco. As many as 20 large trees were required to produce a pile of lime 1 meter high. Thus entire forests were required. Deforestation would have caused erosion that would fill in the swamps where Mayans gathered peat to fertilize crops (Environment, 37 (1995) p. 22).

[D6b] - History - Latin America - Haiti -

Wood supply exhaustion became a serious problem within the 16th Century (56S1).

[D6c] - History - Latin America - Mexico -

The first viceroy of New Spain warned his successor in 1546 of the depletion of wood about the city of Mexico (56S1).

[D6d] - History - Latin America - Peru -

Before the Inca empire collapsed in 1532, the central Andes Mountains were largely deforested, and most mountain residents depended on the dung of llamas for cooking fuel (76E1).

[D7] - History - Asian Sub-Continent -

Tibet had thick cypress forests about 4600 years ago. Local inhabitants destroyed these forests by converting the forestland to croplands (barley cultivation) and grazing animals. The information is based on climate data, pollen records, and ancient soil samples from in and around Lhasa (George Miehle, "Barren Tibet had thick cypress forests some 4600 years ago," Daily India.com, quoting an article in New Scientist, 11/30/06.).

[D7a] - History - Asian Sub-Continent - India -

Ref. (56B1) cites a reference stating that Greek observers in Alexander's army recorded that, east of the Jhelum River in extra-tropical Northwestern India, there was stately forest of wide extent where now there are only scattered trees.

[D7b] - History - Asian Sub-Continent - Nepal -

An excellent history of the effect of Nepalese government policies on Nepal's forests is given in Ref. (91M3).

[D8] - History - Middle East -
[D8a] - History
- Middle East - Lebanon -

Ref. (69M1) gives a map of the surviving woodlands of Lebanon. It also gives a history of the deforestation of Lebanon to modern times.

From the time of the earliest Egyptian and Mesopotamian documents (2600 BC) until the reign of Emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138), the humid western versant of Mount Lebanon was known for its valuable timber. Today much of it is as barren as the mountains of the Sahara (69M1).

[D9] - History - North America -

By the 1830s, commercial logging had begun in the Canadian portions of the Great Lakes basin. By the 1860s, the timber industry had started a logging boom in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Virtually all harvestable timber had been cleared from the Great Lakes basin by the early 1900s (02R1).

[D9a] - History - North America - Canada -

The history of forestry and deforestation in Canada is given in Ref. (83S1).

The Ottawa Valley (initially 207,000 km2 of virgin timber) was stripped of its high quality pine in the 19th century (p. 23 and p. 35 of (83S1)).

The Napoleonic wars in the beginning of the 19th century threatened to cut the British off from their supplies of Baltic timber, forcing Britain to turn to Canada (p. 33 of (83S1)). This resulted in rapid growth in the square timber trade in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ottawa Valley (83S1).

In New Brunswick, much of the good pine had been taken from the forests by the 1870s (p. 43 of (83S1)).

During 1867-1913, Ontario produced 25 billion bd. ft. of white pine (p. 48 of (83S1)).

British Columbia provincial timber output (million bd. ft.): 43.9 in 1889; 241.3 in 1901; 566 in 1907 (p. 57 of (83S1)).

British Columbia lumber production grew 440% during 1945-54 (p. 81 of (83S1)).

Canadian pulp and paper production rose 71% during 1945-55 (p. 82 of (83S1)).

Canadian newsprint capacity (in millions of tonnes/ year): 1.823 in 1925; 4.263 in 1935 (p. 72 of (83S1)).

[D9b] - History - North America - Iceland -

In all of Iceland there are no forests. Yet once there were. They were cut down about 900 years ago and never replanted by the Vikings who needed charcoal to manufacture iron (77H1). Comments: The present lack of trees in Iceland is most likely due to the presence of sheep, which eat any tree shoots that appear, than to the failure to replant. e. g. removal of sheep from long-ago-deforested Scottish heather produces an abundance of tree sprouts.

[D9c] - History - North America - US -

In 1880, nearly 400 cubic ft. (11.3 m3) of wood were burned as fuel for each US resident (Forest Watch, 7/91).

In the western US, private interests picked out the best forests before national forests were established, so industry lands in the West have on average over 50% more productive potential than western national forest lands. In the East, where national forests were mainly acquired during the depression, industry lands have only 15% more productive potential that national forests (Forest Watch, 7/91).

Around 1030 AD, the Anasazi switched from ponderosa pine logs, gathered 25 miles away, to spruce and Douglas fir logs that grew only at the tops of distant mountains surrounding their canyon. Pinion pine needles and juniper twigs disappeared from pack rats' nests around 1200 AD - the time the Anasazi vanished. The Anasazi's fuel wood requirements could easily have stripped their canyon bare by 1200 AD. Firewood problems could have caused them to abandon their canyon (87B2).

The march of the lumbermen from Maine in the late 1700s to New York in 1850 to Michigan in 1870 to Wisconsin in 1890 was primarily a quest for white pine. This quest was followed in many areas by excessive burning which produced "barrens" - desolate tracts almost devoid of large woody areas, such as occupy extensive portions of Michigan and Wisconsin (56C2).

The contiguous US had 3.85 million km2 of forest in 1630. By 1920 this was reduced to 2.49 million km2 (Ref. 2 of (88P1)).

Changes in wooded area in a Green County Wisconsin township during 1831-1950 are tabulated in Ref. (56C2) (wooded acres): 21,548 in 1831, 6380 in 1882, 2077 in 1902, 1034 in 1935, and 786 in 1950.
Timber industry flourished in West Va. from 1879 to 1920. Peak year was 1909 - 6.5 million m3 harvested.

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(6D) Top of this Section-History
(6C) Top of previous Section-Forest Law
(6TC) Top of this Chapter-Forest Politics, Law, and History
(7) Top of this Review's Appendices (Units, Conversions, Definitions)
(8) Top this Review's Reference List
(DF) Forest Land Degradation: A Global Perspective (Table of Contents)
(T) Title Page of this entire web site (visit early)
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SECTION (6-E) - Illegal/ Corrupt Practices - [E1] Global, [E2] Developing World, [E3] South America, [E4] Southeast Asia [E5]~ Africa, [E6] Asian Sub-Continent, [E7] Oceania, [E8] US, [E9] Russia,

[E1] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Global -

The World Bank believes the illicit global trade in timber costs governments (worldwide) about $15 billion/ year in lost revenues and taxes (07W1). (SU2)

(Illegal logging) Countries usually do not report illegal removals and informal fuelwood gathering, so figures for removals might be much higher. The reported figures on fuelwood removals are particularly weak, because a large fraction of fuelwood gathering is "informal" (05F1).

China imports of timber increased from US$6 billion in 1996 to US$16 billion in 2005. The timber came principally from Russia's Far East, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Thailand. China does not currently distinguish between legally and illegally produced timber for imports (06F1).

The world's eight largest industrial countries, plus the rest of the EU, import 280 million m3 of timber and timber products per year. This accounts for 74% of the world's timber imports. Most of this wood comes from countries where illegal logging is the norm. In 2000, the US imported over $450 million worth of timber from Indonesia, which, given Indonesia's illegal logging rate, could represent $330 million worth of timber from illegal sources (This information is also in import/ export data section.) (Dave Currey et al, "Timber Trafficking: Illegal Logging in Indonesia, South East Asia and International Consumption of Illegally Sourced Timber (London, Emerson Press, Environmental Investigation Agency and Telapak Indonesia, Sept. 2001 pp. 9-10).

Illegal logging has devastated forests around the globe, reducing incentives to invest in sustainable forestry and accumulating losses of $15 billion annually (03U2).

Ref. (94D1) cites numerous examples of the influence of political corruption on global deforestation.

A significant cause of forest loss is illegal logging. Estimates suggest up to 80% of logging is illegal in the Brazilian Amazon and 73% of logging is illegal in Indonesia. Figures are similar throughout the tropics. FOE (Friends of the Earth) has concluded that 50% of all timber entering the EU may be illegally sourced, and in the UK the rate is 60% ("Why the Earth Summit Matters", Guardian UK, 5/19/02).

Increased demand from Asia coupled with restrictions or outright bans on logging of natural forests in some Asian countries have contributed to unsustainable (often illegal) logging in Africa and Latin America (03M1).

Illegal timber harvests in China remove 4,500 km2 of forest annually (Ref.40 of (95R2)).

[E2] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Developing World -

In developing countries, illegal logging of public lands alone causes estimated losses in assets and revenues in excess of $10 billion/ year. A further $5 billion is lost each year through tax evasion and loss of royalties on legal logging (06F1).

Ref. (06F1) includes estimates of illegal logging rates as a percentage of total production in 17 countries, from Bolivia to Myanmar and Vietnam. At least 2/3 of those 17 countries have illegal logging rates of at least 50%. In Indonesia, 70-80% of all logging was illegal. In Bolivia it was 80%. In Cambodia it was estimated at 90% (06F1) (su2).

A sizeable discussion of the role of graft, corruption, etc. in logging of tropical forests is in Ref. (90R1).

In a study of 120 countries, high deforestation countries (those that lost 10+% of their forest cover during 1980-85 - 20 countries including Haiti, Iraq, Nicaragua, South Africa, Sri Lanka) are 3 times more likely to be governed by a military leader, 4 times more likely to experience political assassinations, 2 times more likely to witness general strikes, riots, revolutions and changes in government (94U1).

[E3] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - South America -
[E3a] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - South America - Brazil -

In Brazil, an estimated 80% of logging is illegal (Dave Currey et al, "Timber Trafficking: Illegal Logging in Indonesia, South East Asia and International Consumption of Illegally Sourced Timber (London, Emerson Press, Environmental Investigation Agency and Telapak Indonesia, Sept. 2001 pp. 9-10).

According to a new report by the World Bank, 75% of forest fires on the most endangered edge of the Amazon rainforest are carried out by large ranchers, not peasant farmers, who have often received the most blame. Agents for IBAMA, Brazil's environmental protection agency, have been shot at, threatened, and thrown out of town while trying to investigate illegal logging in the Amazon. Politicians and bureaucrats have run into similar pressure. Implementation of an environmental-crimes law enacted last year has been postponed for six years, and a temporary ban on Amazon clearing permits -ordered in February - was lifted in April (UN Wire, 4/19/99). The permits "make little difference" anyway. Last year, none of the top 10 burners of the Amazon had a permit. And only 20% of the fines imposed in 1996-97 were ever collected, according to the Belem-based Institute for Man and the Environment in Amazonia (Laurie Goering, Chicago Tribune, 5/13/99).

The Brazilian Environment Ministry stopped all forest clearing permits one day after it announced the deforestation rate in the Amazon jumped 30% from 1997. Preliminary data shows 6,500 square miles cleared in 1998, mostly from illegal logging and clearing by small farmers (Reuters, 2/11/99).

The Brazilian government estimates that 80% of the timber harvested in the Amazon violates the law (98A2).

A study by Brazil's Dept. of Strategic Affairs shows that 80% of timber taken from the Brazilian Amazon rain forest comes from illegal sources (98A1) (Defenders of Wildlife, GREENLines Issue #392, 6/2/97).

[E4] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Southeast Asia - [E4a] Cambodia, [E4b] Indonesia, [E4c] Malaysia, [E4d] Philippines, [E4e]~Thailand,

In Laos, where the volume of illegal logging is the equivalent of at least one sixth of the legal harvest, the army openly cuts forests ("The Fight Against Illegal Loggers," The Economist, 4/3/99 and Dave Currey et al, "Timber Trafficking: Illegal Logging in Indonesia, South East Asia and International Consumption of Illegally Sourced Timber (London, Emerson Press, Environmental Investigation Agency and Telapak Indonesia, Sept. 2001 pp. 9-10).

On paper, Myanmar (Burma) supplies less than 10% of China's log imports, but industry workers say the number must be at least twice as high (John Pomfret, "China's Lumbering Economy Ravages Border Forests," Washington Post, 3/26/01).

The Cambodian government told aid donors it was terminating its contract with Global Witness, for defaming the country and inciting violence. It was hired in 1999 to document the regulation of companies holding logging concessions. But in their reports the group accused Hun Sen's government of ignoring illegal logging by companies with financial and familial links to officials responsible for overseeing forest use ("Cambodia Faces Loss of Aid After Expelling Monitors", Push newsfeed, 1/7/03).

A report from World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warns of the destruction of tropical forests by multi-national companies, but has been suppressed for 3 years by the European Commission and WWF. The report originally named companies who would bribe or bully their way to lucrative logging concessions, but it has been watered down because WWF feared that some of the governments concerned, particularly Malaysia, would close down WWF offices. Many of the companies named were Asian. Investments are concentrated in countries with generally weak or outdated environmental and social laws and little enforcement capacity. Many of the countries suffer severe economic difficulties with large foreign debts, high inflation and unemployment. Decisions are often made by a small group of powerful people or clans within the government that see forests as a source of personal revenue. The logging causes careless damage to the surrounding forest. The roads built allow entry of commercial hunts, farmers, miners and others who cause further environmental damage. The companies frequently end up in violent clashes with local people and native tribes. The main donors to these countries - the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Japan, the EU, France, Germany, Britain and the US, fail to enforce their own rules to promote forest conservation and responsible management, then induce countries to sell their forests for a quick cash return to pay off debts to Western countries The authors of the report recommended an end to EU aid and a moratorium on all further logging in 11 countries - Cameroon, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa; Belize, Surinam and Guyana in the Caribbean rim; and Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific rim. The moratorium would last until bribery scandals are investigated and proper environmental standards enforced (The Guardian (UK), 6/1/00).

[E4a] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Southeast Asia -Cambodia -

The amount lost to the national treasury of Cambodia as a result of illegal logging alone is equal to the entire national budget (98A1). Forest Dept. officials who tried to implement legally mandated forest reforms have been dismissed, intimidated and murdered (98A1).

Documents obtained by Global Witness show that the Cambodian government is in the process of allocating all of Cambodia's remaining forest in 19 massive concessions to mainly foreign companies. The Khmer Rouge continues to benefit from much of this trade, a trade that the Cambodian government is pursuing against the country's constitution (96G2). Although a timber cutting and export ban is supposedly in force, the Cambodian government continue to award logging concessions. In addition to 11 existing concessions the Cambodian government is in the process of awarding 17 more. If all these concessions receive final approval, the Cambodian government will have allocated all of its remaining forests - over 35% of its total land area - to mainly foreign companies (96G2).

[E4b] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Southeast Asia -Indonesia -

Illegal logging in Indonesia strips 2.1 million ha (5.2 million acres) (21,000 km2) of forests every year in a trade worth $4 billion/ year. Malaysia and China were major recipients of stolen Indonesian timber, although illegally cut timber from the Indonesian region of Papua is being sold in shopping malls as far away as Britain. Shipping companies from Singapore carried stolen timber overseas (Achmad Sukarsono, "Don't buy products from illegal logging - Indonesia," Reuters AlertNet, 4/9/07.).

Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research, contends that more than 70% of logs going to Indonesia's timber-processing industry have been illegally felled (07W1).

Indonesia's courts are judged to be among the most corrupt in the world by Berlin-based Transparency International (07W1).

Hundreds of sawmills operate without government approval in Sumatra (in Indonesia) (05B1). 70-85% of all timber cut in Indonesia is harvested by people operating without government permits (05B1). The national parks have about the only stands of timber left in Sumatra (05B1).

In Indonesia in the early 1980s, the overall area of timber concessions granted by the government exceeded the official area designated at "production forest" (00P1).

Domestic wood supply in Indonesia was documented at 20 million m3 in 2000, while demand stood at 60 million m3. Thus legal supplies of wood fiber fell short of demand by up to 40 million m3/ year. Illegal logging filled the gap - accounting for almost 70% of wood supply. All told, illegal logging alone has eliminated 100,000 km2 of Indonesia's forest cover (Forest Watch Indonesia and Global Forest Watch, The State of the Forest: Indonesia (Bogor, Indonesia, and Washington DC, 2002).

Forest depletion in Thailand and Indonesia from the 1960s to the 1990s may be attributed, to a large extent, to military dominance of these governments (00P1). President Suharto of Indonesia handed out timber licenses to loyal military officers to improve military budgets. By 1978, the military controlled 12 timber companies (00P1). Indonesia's armed forces own 51% of International Timber Corp. of Indonesia, while Suharto's son owes 34% (00P1). Indonesia's Forestry minister said (in 1989) "In Indonesia, the forest belongs to the state and not the people. They have no right to compensation" (Ref. 26 of (00P1)).

The Indonesian government declared in 1967 that it had sole legal jurisdiction over the nation's forests - 74% of Indonesia's land area. One result was that the traditional rights of millions of people were handed over to a small number of commercial firms and state enterprises (98A2).

Illegal logging has become rampant in Indonesia, even in national parks, on a scale that exceeds the volume of legal logging (Thomas Walton, Derek Holmes, International Herald Tribune, 1/25/00).

A friend of Indonesia's President Soeharto's second son accumulated 55,000 km2 of forest concessions worth more than $5 billion by the early 1990s (98R1).

70% of the timber harvest (in Indonesia) was taken illegally in some provinces (93D2).

The politics of logging in Borneo and Kalimantan (in Indonesia) are described in detail in Ref. (94B1). President Suharto gave timber concessions to top military officers who were loyal to him in the bloody 1967 coup that bought him to power (94B1).

[E4c] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Southeast Asia -Malaysia -

Half the timber concessions in Sarawak (in Malaysia) are owned by family and friends of Abdul Taib Mahmud, Sarawak's current chief minister and his uncle, Abdul Rahman Yakub, the past minister (91R1).

[E4d] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Southeast Asia -Philippines -

Poverty drives farmers and other residents to cut trees with little regard for the law in the Philippines. 40% of Nakar town relied on illegal logging and legal loggers are also responsible for much of the damage often cutting trees outside permitted areas while corrupt officials turn a blind eye. Under a logging ban imposed in the mid-1990s, licensed loggers in the Philippines are only allowed to cut trees in areas that have more than 20% forest cover. But forest cover has shrunk to less than 18% mostly in the islands of Palawan and Mindanao, from 64% in 1920. The Philippine experience mirrors the situation in Indonesia, where corruption has gone hand-in-hand with the disappearance of rain forest. Indonesia has lost more than 75% of its forests over the past few decades, leaving only 148 million acres (600,000 km2) ("Philippine Storm Deaths Blamed on Logging; Forests That Prevented Slides Have Been Cleared", MSNBC.com 12/01/04

Congress in the Philippines is packed with loggers and members of logging families (Ref. 59 of (93D2)).

The illegal timber trade in the Philippines may be 4 times the size of the legal trade (Ref. 61 of (93D2)).

The liquidation of 90% of the Philippines' primary forests during the Marcos regime in the 1960s and 1970s made a few hundred families $42 billion richer, but impoverished 18 million forest dwellers (98A1) (98A2). The Philippines went from the second-largest log-exporter in the world to a net timber-importer today (98A1).

[E4e] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Southeast Asia -Thailand -

In the late 1980s the Thai government banned all commercial logging, and revoked all 301 logging concessions (90W1) (90R3). Enforcement of this ban has been lethally dangerous to enforcement officials, and compromised by bribes to public officials (Wall Street Journal, 10/7/93).

[E5] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Africa -

The chief in the village of Lamoko in Democratic Republic of Congo sold timbering rights for 25 years to a vast tract of tropical rain forest to a European company for promises to build 3 simple school houses and pharmacies plus 20 sacks of sugar, 200 bags of salt, some machetes (total value about $18,000). The value of the timber rights is on the order of many hundreds of millions of dollars. This contract is just one of many that village chiefs in Democratic Republic of Congo have negotiated with European companies. Many contracts are far worse than the Lamoko contract, and often the Europeans do not pay what little they agreed to pay (John Vidal, "Vast forests with trees each worth over $7300 sold for a few bags of sugar," Guardian News, 4/11/07.).

Congolese institutions have been unable to protect the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC's) great wealth of natural resources due to corruption and weak governance (07M1). The forests of the DRC are threatened by plunder and mismanagement: Logging for timber and fuelwood, clearing forests for agriculture, and mining are degrading DRC forests at the rate of 2 million acres per year (8100 km2/ year) (USAID, 2005) (07M1).

In spite of the moratorium on new logging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that has been in place since 2002, over 150,000 km2 of rainforest have been granted to the logging industry. In exchange for timber worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, logging companies are giving local communities gifts such as bags of salt and crates of beer worth less than US$100 and make promises to build schools and hospitals - promises that are rarely fulfilled. Intimidation tactics are used against people who try to protest. People are being pushed into signing contracts even if they can't read the French in which the contracts are written (Natalia Truchi, "Rainforest destruction in Africa," Greenpeace, 4/11/07 (http://www.greenpeace.org/)).

During 1990-95, the share of Cameroon (in west Africa) logs going to Asia grew from 7% to 50%. Only half of the logging companies in Cameroon are licensed, and among these companies, violations such as felling trees smaller than the legal size and cutting outside concession boundaries are common even though illegal (Mark Jaffe, "Logging Fuels Crime, Corruption in Cameroon," Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/21/01).

[E5a] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Africa - Ghana -

One third of Ghana's logs are harvested illegally (98A1) (98A2).

[E6] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Asian Sub-Continent -
[E6a] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Asian Sub-Continent - India -

Using detailed studies Jones (1995) points out that, for India, 10 times more fuel-wood was collected than officially reported (96N1).

[E7] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Oceania -

Environmental activists said they had uncovered the biggest smuggling racket with huge shipments of logs shipped from Papua New Guinea to China. They said the illegal trade was threatening the last intact tropical forests in the Asia-Pacific region. International criminal syndicates were behind looting merbau trees - a hardwood used mainly for flooring, that was being taken from Papua at a rate of 300,000 m3 of logs each month to feed China's timber industry. More than 70% of Indonesia's forests have been lost. The government banned the export of logs in 2001, but that has not stopped the trade. Collusion with Indonesia's military was apparent, activists said. The armed forces have denied the institution was engaged in the trade, but conceded rogue elements could take part. Indonesia's new president has pledged to crack down on illegal logging. Local communities receive around $10/ m3 felled on their land; they fetch $270/ m3 in China and up to $2700 in North America. With forest cover at around 70%, New Guinea contains the last tracts of undisturbed forest in the Asia-Pacific region ("Activists Detail Allegations of Illegal Indonesia Logging; Groups Track Shipments to China Over Recent Years", MSNBC.com 2/17/05).

Illegal logging is destroying large areas of forest in Papua New Guinea despite a government crackdown and policies that regulate the practice, global environmental group Forest Trends said. Environmentalists have long said widespread industrial logging in Papua New Guinea, which lies to the north of Australia, is stripping the region of its rainforests, among the richest tropical forests in the world. Some environmentalists estimate more than 2500 km2 of virgin forest are destroyed each year in Papua New Guinea, most of which is still covered by rainforests (06U2). Forest Trends said its surveys conducted over a five-year-period showed most commercial forestry operations in Papua New Guinea were illegal and ecologically unsustainable (06U2). It said 14 logging projects covering 31,700 km2 were operating unlawfully in the region. In 2004, these operations produced 1.3 million m3 of logs with an export value of $70 million (06U2). "While the Papua New Guinea government and its regulatory institutions have all the necessary policies, laws and regulations to ensure that sustainable timber production can be achieved, these laws are not being enforced," Forest Trends said in a statement. "Industry is allowed to ignore Papua New Guinea laws and, in fact, gains preferential treatment in many cases, while the rural poor are left to suffer the social and environmental consequences of an industry that operates largely outside the regulatory system." Forest Trends said the sector was dominated by Malaysian-owned interests and was predominantly focused on the harvesting of natural forest areas for log exports. The primary markets for raw logs are in China, Japan and South Korea and many of the logs are processed in China for consumption in Europe and North America, it said (06U2). A net 7.3 million hectares (73,000 km2) (of Papua New Guinea?) forest was lost each year from 2000-2005, according to UN data. (global data?) (06U2).

[E7a] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Oceania - Papua New Guinea -

A study of the enforcement of national forestry laws in Papua New Guinea found that foreign timber companies were "roaming the countryside with the self-assurance of robber barons, bribing politicians, creating social disharmony and ignoring laws in order to gain access to the last remnants of the province's valuable timber (Ref. 60 of (93D2)).

[E8] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - United States -

Former head of the US Forest Service in the Northern Rocky Mountains, John Mumma, told a Congressional subcommittee 9/24/91 that he was removed from his position for failing to meet timber quotas insisted upon by members of the Montana and Idaho delegations. He contended that he failed to meet the quotas only because to do so would have required him to violate federal laws (Forest Watch, Oct. 1991).

Former Regional Director of the National Park Service in the Northern Rocky Mountains, Lorraine Mentzmeyer, told a Congressional subcommittee 9/24/91 that she was removed from her position after she failed to acquiesce to the gutting of the Yellowstone Vision Document dealing with plans for management of the 12-million-acre Yellowstone Ecosystem, most of which lies on national forest lands outside the 2-million-acre Yellowstone National Park (Forest Watch, Oct. 1991).

In the US in the early 1990s, timber companies were discovered stealing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of trees from federal lands annually, sometimes with the knowledge of USFS employees. The lawsuit recovered only a fraction of the timber's value (98A2).

A recent audit report by the Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture verified that inappropriate meetings between USFS and industry had taken place. That report's findings included: (94D4)

[E9] - Illegal/ Corrupt Forestry - Russia -

57% of the logs bought into China originate in Russia, where poor law enforcement, corruption, and the abandonment of local timber-processing plants have led people to illegally cut trees for companies that send raw materials to China for processing. At least 20% of Russia's timber harvest is taken illegally or drastically violates existing legislation (Sun Xiufang, Ralph Bean, "G-7 Nations and China Must Halt the Import of Illegal Timber from the Russian Far East", Press release, Gland Switzerland, World-Wide Fund for Nature, 2/27/02).

Forests in Russia's Far East are at risk of complete destruction within 5 years because of illegal logging. The Group of Seven industrialized countries, as well as South Korea and China, import illegal timber resources from the region (World Wide Fund for Nature statement, 2/27/02).

Russia: logging may be occurring on as much as 120,000 km2/ year, vs. 20,000 km2 of legal logging (98A2).

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(6E) Top of this Section-Illegal/ Corrupt Practices
(6TC) Top of this Chapter - Forest Politics, Law, and History
(7) Top of this Review's Appendices (Units, Conversions, Definitions)
(8) Top this Review's Reference List
(DF) Forest Land Degradation: A Global Perspective (Table of Contents)
(T) Title Page of this entire web site (visit early!)
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