Coconut palms instead of forests – a common sight in the Philippine uplands.
Photo: J. Erhardt

24.08.2012

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The upland regions of the Philippines are being subjected to severe deforestation. Agroforestry could promote the sustainable use of forests and thus reconcile the interests of forest conservation and climate change mitigation with those of small-scale farmers. But complicated and at times contradictory legislation stands in the way.

The upland regions of the Philippines are facing difficult development challenges. First of all, natural resources in these areas are under great pressure. In the 1950s the uplands were still largely covered by forest. Decades of commercial felling have led to a situation where now, only about seven per cent of these areas remains forested. And yet preserving the forest would be crucial for climate change mitigation, the water balance and to preventing extensive soil erosion.

On the other hand, more and more people are living in the mountainous regions of the country. For many of them small-scale agriculture is the only source of income. Landless people in particular are displaced to mountainous regions in search of land to farm. The high population density and the high concentration of property in coastal regions in the hands of a small number of large landowners are the main driving forces behind this migration.

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