Chapter 7: Unsustainable Yields: American Foresters and Tropical Timber Resources
In a comprehensive and unified program of conservation, designed to replace scarcity with abundance, forestry and forest lands commonly occupy a key role. They may provide a continuing flow of products to satisfy human wants; and they may ensure the protection of soil, water flows, and local climate, without which food and agriculture in many lands will continue to deteriorate. They may, then, hold the whole task of conservation together.
Introduction: Tropical Timber Exploitation in the Twentieth Century
The global loss of tropical forests mounted slowly for several centuries, then began a rapid acceleration during the 1940s. The increase occurred for many reasons; the most important undoubtedly was the expansion of agriculture in all of its forms. Export crops and beef production degraded or replaced incalculable extents of tropical forest and wetland and savanna, as if the forest itself had no biological or even economic value. The benefits of these industries to investors and consumers have been enormous, constituting the primary driving force behind this great ecological transformation. But the value of the forest itself has also risen on local and global markets, primarily in the form of timber products. As the tropical timber products industry became industrialized, wood products joined foods as a major commodity that northern economies could harvest from tropical lands, 1
and as light railways, heavy-wheeled vehicles for grading roads and hauling timber, and more efficient multipurpose sawmills became available to meet rapidly increasing global demand, forests retreated before the logger as well.
The United States provided markets for tropical hardwoods beginning in the eighteenth century. In the twentieth century the market for tropical hardwoods accelerated, but as a portion of total U.S. hardwood consumption, it was always minute. Domestic hardwoods like oak, maple, and walnut provided as much as 99 percent of each year's market. In terms of harvests in some tropical countries, the American market for tropical hardwood produced major ecological impacts. To make the picture more complex, the flow of timber between the United States and the tropics was reciprocal, for Pacific and Caribbean markets were important for American conifer lumber from the late nineteenth century on, when the U.S. timber industry began looking for foreign customers in order to diversify its markets and stabilize its operations.
Americans played four major roles in the expanding scale of tropical forest exploitation: as investors and consumers, and as loggers and foresters. Logging companies measured their effectiveness largely in terms of the expanding scale and efficiency of the extraction of wood products. A foreign mahogany logger was aware of his lack of knowledge, but he could recognize a tall, straight mahogany trunk even if he found only one per acre- and that was enough for him. Professional foresters saw their effectiveness increasingly in terms of managing the forests for a sustainable yield of wood products. Although foresters studied tropical ecosystems, coming over the course of decades to understand their complexity, fragility, and limited extent, most of their time was spent studying commercially important species, since no species had any "value" unless it was recognized by the buyers of finished products. Even more than agronomists and ranch managers, they struggled to understand how to maintain the forest for future human use. By the 1950s some of them had begun to wrestle with the social and ecological issues that are imbedded in forest use.
These foresters faced a profound dilemma, which even today is unresolved. Was it possible, by introducing more systematic exploitation of timber resources, to establish sustainable forestry in the tropics and contribute to social welfare into the future? Or would modern timber technology be yet another power in the hands of those who wanted quick profits at the expense of entire ecosystems? Through the work of pioneering American tropical foresters, we can glimpse what the forests of Southeast Asia and Latin American were like at various times, how the patterns of human pressure on them escalated, and how these ecological technicians envisioned the future of domesticated tropical ecosystems.
The Yankees' Tropical Woodlot: Timber Exploitation in the Caribbean Basin
Timber had been a profitable export from the Caribbean Basin since the time of the first Iberian settlements. When American loggers and timber buyers began working the hardwood forests of the Caribbean Basin in an extensive way in the 1880s, they entered a three-hundred-year-old competition among Europeans for capturing treasures like dyewoods and mahogany. Two major forest types were exploited over the centuries. One was lowland moist forest, which contained the precious dye and cabinet woods that grow as individual trees in the midst of many other species. The other was the higher, drier pine forest, useful primarily for inexpensive building lumber. The two stories had different histories, and each history had a distinctive American role.
High-Grading in the Lowland Forests
High-grading- felling only the finest trees- was practiced by the first Portuguese to intrude on the Bahia coast of Brazil in the early sixteenth century. These loggers were interested only in brazilwood, which they exported to Europe as a source of red dye. The dye was highly valued in the clothing industry, which was expanding to meet the demand generated by a rising and prospering population. 2
By the end of the 1500s highgrading had reduced the forest along the coasts and riverways to economic insignificance. Constrained by the only timber transport method then available, a team of oxen, loggers rarely penetrated far from waterways or into steep hilly areas. The full diversity of the deeper forest remained.
During the same era, European dyewood hunters, or Baymen, discovered logwood, an equally valuable source of red dye, growing along the Caribbean littoral. A hardwood of the lowland moist forest, logwood grew prolifically from Campeche and Yucatán in Mexico through coastal Belize to the Miskito coast of Honduras and Nicaragua. In the 1600s, despite the Spanish navy's attempts to suppress them, British and other non-Spanish privateers generated a large-scale export of logwood for the cloth mills of northern Europe. This trade lasted for over 300 years. 3
The Baymen's anarchic ways served them well in the turbulent political conditions that prevailed until 1670, when Spain and Britain agreed by treaty that Belize would become the British possession of British Honduras. 4
Even thereafter political instability was so severe and working conditions were so harsh that the loggers took what they could easily find and sailed away. Logs had to be floated to the coast in the rainy- the very rainy-season. 5
One early traveler observed,
During the wet season, the land where the logwood grows is so overflowed, that they step from their beds into water perhaps two feet deep, and continue standing in the wet all day, till they go to bed again; but nevertheless account it the best season in the year for doing a good day's labour in.. ..When a tree is so thick that after it is logged, it remains still too great a burthen for one man, we blow it up with gunpowder. 6
The size of the logwood tree did not affect the extraction of dye, so the loggers took all available trees, large and small, ultimately depleting accessible supplies almost totally. The loggers were itinerant and the work was very difficult-modern ideals of sustained-yield forestry were beyond imagining.
As easily accessible stands of logwood quickly declined, the Baymen began using oxen for hauling and Garifunas (escaped African slaves from the British Caribbean islands) for laborers, thereby expanding the reach of their operations. Exports to Europe rose from 700 tons in 1800 to 35,000 tons in 1896. In Jamaica logwood supplies actually increased during the nineteenth century, because the species turned out to be an aggressive invader of deserted crop lands. When slavery was abolished in Jamaica in 1834, large areas of fertile hill lands reverted to secondary woodland, which contained logwood. By 1897, at the beginning of the era when banana planters recleared those lands, logwood was Jamaica's most valuable export, exceeding sugar and coffee. 7
The era of logwood exports to Europe ended suddenly in the late 1890s when chemical dyes totally replaced dyewoods throughout Europe. Only 3,600 tons of logwood were exported from British Honduras in 1913. 8
This was just one of numerous examples of industrial products replacing depleted tropical resources on international markets.
In the first century of the colonial enterprise, dyewoods were almost the only timbers exploited for European use. European navies changed that in the seventeenth century, as they began using mahogany in European and Caribbean shipyards. Havana was the major shipyard for the colonial Spanish fleet, and in the 1600s its forested hinterlands began to be combed for mahogany, an effort that continued well into the 1800s.
A major increase in the demand for mahogany occurred in the mid-eighteenth century, when it became the most fashionable furniture wood in Europe. Hepplewhite and Chippendale styles, whose elegant lines and elaborate detail required a fine-grained, easily tooled wood, were perfected by craftsmen working with mahogany. 9
In more recent centuries, mahogany, or caoba (as it is known wherever it grows), has epitomized the commercial wealth of the rainforests of Central America and the Caribbean islands. Like most tropical hardwoods, mahogany grows scattered in mixed-species forests, not in easily accessible single-species stands. Mahogany logging inevitably was a matter of high-grading. Sawyers with their oxen searched the forest for single large trees of high commercial value, carving out logging trails as they went. Each great tree that fell shattered numerous smaller trees in its path. After the woodsmen left a logged mahogany forest, as many as a hundred other species remained standing, as did young, twisted, or old mahogany trunks. The best seed trees of mahogany were felled, and as the oxen dragged them to a nearby river for floating away, they damaged still more trees and tore the soil along the paths and riverbanks. Mahogany does not regenerate easily or grow rapidly; it can take up to one hundred years for a tree to mature. Thus, although a degraded mahogany forest was still ecologically stable, its quality as a sylvan community of species was damaged.
British loggers led the way in this phase of forest exploitation, searching the entire Caribbean coast from Campeche on for mahogany, Spanish cedar, and other precious cabinet woods. By the late 1700s the scale of mahogany extraction had become far greater than the dyewood trade had ever been. The logging was carried on in a setting of legal confusion: titles to land were cloudy and contract systems were rudimentary. Quarrels were frequent among the mahogany cutters, most of whom worked the forests without bothering to establish formal rights. During the last half of the nineteenth century, first small-scale Yankee loggers and then larger-scale Yankee timber companies became a major force on the islands and mainland coasts of the Caribbean. Their operations became the major pressure on the mahogany and pine forests outside the British possessions, intricately interweaving the U.S. forest economy with that of the Caribbean Basin.
The first Americans to appear were the hardwood purchasers, who were not lumbermen but shippers-middlemen between the loggers in the rainforest and the manufacturers of fine furniture in American cities from New Orleans to Boston. In the first decades of U.S. independence they imported mahogany mostly from Cuba, by way of their commercial offices in Havana, but also from Honduras and British Honduras. The East Coast markets thus provided profits for Cuban and Spanish speculators who cleared mahogany forests in central Cuba to grow the white gold of sugar. 10
As urban affluence expanded in the United States during the nineteenth century, an increasingly prosperous middle class demanded more tropical hardwoods for furniture, paneling, and other uses. Craftsmen used several rainforest species in their fine cabinetry, but mahogany dominated the market. Yankee timber importers began searching for mahogany stands and logging concessions throughout the region.
At first the Yankee entrepreneurs and speculators were a miscellaneous lot who made short-term investments in small concessions and organized the logging themselves; their operations are difficult to trace. Probably representative of them was Walter Wilcox, best known as a writer of wilderness camping books, who operated in the rainforest of Cuba. Shortly after Cuban independence, when American investments in Cuba became safer than they had been under Spanish rule, Wilcox bought a timber concession on the Bay of Pigs on the south coast, in an area of largely intact mangrove swamps and hardwood forests, where a few scattered local farmers scratched out a minimal subsistence. Wilcox saw himself as a resourceful frontiersman: a year after his first reconnaissance visit on a sailboat hired in the port of Cienfuegos he returned "with a force of carpenters and laborers and a cargo of lumber and tools. A place was cleared in the forest for a house, docks were built, gardens laid out, wells dug." He added almost parenthetically, "In all that time we were not molested by the natives." 11
Wilcox was typical for his time in his contradictory attitudes toward the forest. One feeling was admiration verging on awe at the forest that he was cutting. Echoing the prose of many other northern writers after their first exposure to its grandeur and mystery, he wrote in 1908 for the National Geographic that
the number of species of trees is very great, and, while including such splendid varieties as mahogany, sabicu, ebony, and Spanish cedar, there are many other hardwoods, probably 150 in number, some of which are very rare or quite unknown to experts in tropical timbers.. ..The mahogany and cedar are imposing trees, the latter sometimes reaching a diameter of seven feet. Their massive branches, hung with purple and yellow orchids, bromeliads, ferns, and other parasitic plants, are the resort of parrots and other birds of brilliant plumage. 12
For that audience, lovers of natural history, he presented a photo of teams of oxen hauling the felled mahogany logs to the coast. In a photograph on the next page, he showed a farmer proudly observing a field of corn; his caption blandly read, "Six months before this picture was taken the field was covered with a dense tropical forest." 13
This was still the era when the forests seemed so vast that it was civilizing work to clear them for one's own profit and for the local peasants' corn crops as well.
Other early operations were run along the Caribbean coast of Mexico, including what was probably the first long-term operation by a firm specializing in tropical hardwood imports. The Ichabod Williams family firm of New York, whose lumber operations specialized in tropical hardwoods throughout the company's long life from 1838 to 1966, became specialists in negotiations with local authorities, contracts with local labor, and shipment of logs to their sawmill in Bayonne, New Jersey. 14
When easily accessible supplies in Mexico were depleted and the first series of land concessions ran out toward the end of the nineteenth century, several American companies began searching the Central American rainforests, starting across the border in Guatemala. The region was crudely cosmopolitan. Mexican businessmen from Tabasco, as well as Englishmen and Lebanese from British Honduras, competed with the Yankees as investors. The loggers they hired were very skillful with ax and saw, but they were also a motley, itinerant collection of men who were far from home for long periods of time. Many of them were working off debt peonage incurred in other parts of Central America and Mexico. On their occasional recreational forays into muddy frontier towns, they drank, brawled, and whored. A recent observer in the mahogany region of northern Guatemala describes "a pervasive tone of immorality in the entire operation." 15
Like the rootless loggers in the commercially penetrated forests of many other countries, they had no stake in the health of the forest, which they attacked like commercial game hunters. In that turbulent setting the largest of the Yankee firms, the American-Guatemalan Mahogany Company, founded in 1907, cut over 16 million board feet of mahogany in twenty-three years, mostly in the Usumacinta River basin. 16
Companies like this enabled U.S. mahogany imports to double between 1900 and the late 1920s. 17
Farther around the Caribbean coast, into the Miskito coastal forests of Nicaragua, the George D. Emery Company of Boston was the most important producer of timber products. The company experienced initial success, but ultimate frustration. Its history illustrates the formidable difficulties that affected profit making in the timber industry at the turn of the century. In 1894 Emery negotiated two leases with the Nicaraguan government that gave him the timber rights in previously untouched forests along rivers flowing into the Caribbean. Because of the level of his investment and the extent of his marketing, Emery accelerated the high-grading of the best hardwoods in the region. 18
Casa Emery, as it came to be known, was soon exporting about 1,000 mahogany and Spanish cedar logs monthly to Boston, an unprecedented scale of operations. Its work force of 1,300 was mostly drawn from the region and included local Miskito Indians and other indigenes, but some one hundred Americans were imported for the more highly skilled jobs. 19
In 1905, using newly available dynamite, Emery began deepening river channels to smooth travel and log floating. 20
Dynamite was used in the same way by Emery's competitors as well. The channel blasting and the logging operations along the riverbanks had downstream effects: siltation and the disrupted flow of water damaged lowland riverine systems near the coast by increasing flooding and damaging fisheries.
No timber concession was ever granted except through political maneuvering, and none was secure against changing political winds. Casa Emery's concessions had been granted by a friendly regime in Managua, but Central American governments were notoriously unpredictable and faction-ridden. Timber operators, in contrast to banana growers, could easily be replaced; high-grading for maximum short-term profits was the inevitable result. In 1909 Emery became entangled in a Nicaraguan presidential campaign, one in which the U.S. government was enmeshed as well. Emery backed the losing candidate, and the new government retaliated by revoking his concession, ending his fifteen years of logging on the Miskito coast. Washington attempted to intervene through diplomatic channels, on the usual principle of defending the sanctity of American investments abroad, but this time it did no good. Finally Emery sold out in 1911 to Ichabod Williams, whose sources of supply were diverse, enabling him to continue his business for a full century.
Casa Emery initiated the flow of a much higher level of capital and milling technology into mahogany extraction than the rainforest had ever experienced. As in many other fields of resource extraction, the scale of American capitalism shaped major changes. The aftermath of World War I brought a momentous change to the forests, one that originated in Detroit. After a severe but brief postwar depression in the timber industry, mahogany logging investments expanded in the 1920s, and what was most needed was access to forests that were even more remote. Motor-driven tractors appeared, along with large skidders and log-wagons-equipment that far surpassed oxen: tractors could operate with ease on hilly terrain and could haul logs several miles from the cutting site to the river.
The new scale of investment and technology was evident downriver as well. At log collection points near the mouths of rivers, more sophisticated sawmills began to appear that were capable of milling a wider variety of species and utilizing a higher percentage of each log. The situation was parallel to expanded-scale technology in the sugar refineries. The imported sawmills were too expensive and too efficient for local millers: they could neither afford them nor compete with them. Ladinos were beginning to produce mahogany furniture, but their efforts were largely stymied by the financial and organizational power of U.S. and European industry. Two highly qualified American observers noted that "there is a small but steadily increasing local industry producing mahogany lumber, mainly from inferior material unsuitable for export, but inefficiency of plant and limited shipping facilities have hitherto precluded it from competing to any material extent with the highly organized lumber manufacturing industry in the United States." 21
Local operators could function only on the fringes of the northerners' corporate power.
Exploiting the Caribbean Pine Forests
A very different dimension of the logging business appeared in the pine forests that grew on drier land and poorer soils in the interior highlands of Mexico and Central America. 22
Little is known about the relationship between subsistence life and commercial pine extraction before the nineteenth century, although the issue must have been significant as far back as early colonial times. The Spanish were actively interested in the pine belt, for several species of pine provided not only low-cost building materials for local use but also pitch and tar for naval stores, just as the pine forests of the Atlantic coast provided for the American colonies. In the 1700s the Spanish colonial regime of Peru relied extensively on the Central American pine forests to supplement the Peruvian uplands as a source of material for shipbuilding and naval maintenance at its shipyards in Guayaquil. 23
By the nineteenth century these uses depleted pine forests around the Caribbean. These semiarid forests were also grazing grounds for local livestock, since soils were too poor for prosperous crop production. The villagers annually burned the undergrowth in the dry season to encourage the stronger growth of new fodder. In the process they destroyed new pine seedlings; moreover, many of their fires burst out of control, severely damaging more mature trees. 24
Some pine forests were protected from commercial exploitation by their remoteness from transport arteries. In these areas, however, methods of logging were primitive and wasteful: only a relatively small portion of each tree was milled. Partly as a result of this, the production of export lumber remained limited until well into the twentieth century, despite the fact that several of the densely populated islands of the Caribbean imported pine lumber from the southeastern United States for the construction of their expanding coastal towns.
The risks faced by potential U.S. investors in Caribbean Basin timberlands were great, as the Casa Emery case demonstrated. It was difficult to gain and harder to keep logging concessions from local governments. The boundaries of the concessions and their certainty of tenure against the rights of local landlords and peasants were unpredictable, and concessions were likely to be revoked abruptly. Of course, a wealthy or politically powerful corporation could play the game of influence as well as the local regime. The banana companies were the only ones in that league.
American tropical fruit companies began large-scale forest clearing on the Caribbean coast around 1900. In the early years of their operations, they simply removed the primary forest, making no effort to harvest timber for commercial profit. In 1923 the Vaccaro brothers, soon to found the Standard Fruit Company, became the first to harvest timber as one stage of their effort to vertically integrate the entire banana production process. 25
Three years earlier, in 1919, when pine was scarce in the southeastern United States, a Louisiana lumbering family purchased a concession giving it the rights to 80,000 acres of pine forest behind Bragman's Bluff on the Miskito coast of Nicaragua. The family intended to export pine lumber to New Orleans. The declared value of the new venture was $50,000. The Vaccaro brothers, whose banana empire was well established in the adjacent lowlands of Honduras, were looking for land in Nicaragua. They purchased the small firm in 1923 and christened it Bragman's Bluff Lumber Company. They renegotiated the original concession with Managua and gained the right to import their machinery duty-free. In return the company agreed to pay a small export tax on lumber.
The new owners quickly invested $5 million to construct port facilities at Puerto Cabezas and one hundred miles of private railroad to serve both lumber and banana operations. They imported a modern sawmill from Louisiana to supplement the three existing small mills along the coast, and they began exporting pine boards in 1925. This was the first step toward realizing Standard Fruit's long-range ambition to operate in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other Caribbean countries.
The Vaccaro brothers' joint investment in Standard Fruit and Bragman's Bluff amounted to $8 million. 26
That investment totally dominated Nicaragua's Caribbean coast in the 1920s. Harold Denny, a New York Times correspondent, traveled throughout Nicaragua in 1929, investigating the civil war and American corporate involvement. He described Puerto Cabezas, one of two main ports on the Miskito coast—the other was Bluefields—as a Yankee enclave with rough environs.
Puerto Cabezas is even more American than Bluefields. It is an industrial village of some 1,200 population, situated on a broad, flat plain overlooking the Caribbean. It looks and is precisely like a lumber mill village in some southern state in North America.. ..[Standard Fruit] owns the town and everything in it. The inhabitants, American families from American villages, live in quantity production wooden houses rented from the company, buy their clothing and groceries from the company's store, and find their relaxations in a club built by the company.. ..From the margin of the American settlement the native town of Bilway, 100 feet wide and two miles long, stretches parallel with the seashore. It is a filthy street of Chinese and German stores interspersed with half-breed bars and brothels. The population is largely "mestizo," a mongrel of Mosquito Indian and Jamaican negro, and the languages range from bad Spanish and degenerate Mosquito to Oxford English. 27
In sum, it was both a typical self-contained company town and a typically unstable, rowdy town on the frontier of the exploitation of tropical Nature. It was extremely difficult to maintain orderly operations during the civil war that engulfed Nicaragua in the following years. The Caribbean coast was frequently in revolt against the remote capital. Sandino periodically attacked the fruit companies and their subsidiaries from his base in the rugged interior along the Honduran border between 1926 and 1934, when he was trapped and assassinated by Somoza's men in Managua. 28
In that setting difficulties arose over the duration and territorial extent of the concession that had been granted to Bragman's Bluff. Neither the company nor the government was careful about the ownership claims of local smallholders. Some years previously the Miskito Indians living in the area had confirmed their title to the lands they tilled in one of their periodic negotiations with the distant government. Campesino communities had survived in close symbiosis with the pine forests for many years; many of their settlements dated back to pre-Columbian times. Reacting to the fruit company's 1923 concession, the Miskitos angrily told the government that it had casually given away their ancestral lands to the company. The government ignored the Indians. Conflicts of this type—between Indians and foreign capitalists, and between Indians and national governments—were frequent in locations where detailed cadastral surveys had never been done and land records were chaotic.
A more serious blow to Standard's banana operations, one that probably reduced the pressures on the Miskitos, was the attack of Panama disease and Sigatoka on its plantations along the Caribbean coast. These diseases crippled the company's Nicaraguan operations. In 1935 Standard began preparing to move from Nicaragua to Mexico and the Pacific lowlands. They exported their last Nicaraguan bananas in 1942, and in the same year they liquidated the Bragman's Bluff Lumber Company. Standard kept control of the port facilities but leased the pine forests to the Robinson Lumber Company of New Orleans, which was willing to take the political risks of working with the Somoza regime. Robinson cut large amounts of pine lumber, making no attempt to replant any of it or to protect the growing stock that remained. 29
If efficient management and profitable pine lumber export industry was to develop in the Caribbean Basin, it would likely be in Honduras, where the most extensive and economically most significant stands of pine in Central America are found. Honduras even in the mid-1980s had reserves of 27,000 square kilometers of pine forests. 30
The first Honduran pine lumber was shipped from the Miskito coast to the timber-starved islands of the Caribbean around the end of the nineteenth century. By the 1920s the timber industry was tightly linked to the corporate strategies of the American banana companies, and pine lumber had begun to play a major role in the Honduran export economy. Soon the largest Central American timber operations were in Honduras. In 1926 its primary export, coffee, was valued at $8 million.
Timber exports nearly equaled bananas. That year Honduran exports of mahogany and pine totaled $1.5 million, while banana exports totaled between $1.5 million and $2 million.
The country's corporate and political structure and its available timber resources were only part of the reason that American companies chose to focus their efforts in Honduras. Changing investment patterns, forest resources, and lumber markets in the southeastern United States were equally important, since they determined which pine forests were exploited and how intensive the exploitation was. The destinies of yellow pine and Caribbean pine were inextricably linked throughout the first half of this century.
Just as wheat had been exported from the U.S. eastern seaboard to the Caribbean as early as the mid-eighteenth century, construction lumber was exported beginning in 1829. 31
The great expansion of this export industry came after 1865, in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War, as the southern lumber industry gradually rebuilt and expanded its scale. 32
The forests of the New England and Great Lakes states were severely depleted by 1880, 33
and the Mississippi Valley from Minneapolis and Chicago to New Orleans was entering an era of industrialization. Many northern lumber firms and loggers moved into the southern pine and cypress belt, which stretches 1500 miles from Virginia to eastern Texas, in a burst of land speculation that was equal to any in the western states in those years. 34
Markets both domestic and international were eager for the strong, handsome lumber of the longleaf or yellow pine. The most important export market was Europe, where Germany in particular began purchasing large amounts of pine from the American South, but the Caribbean Basin also emerged as a significant market. 35
The Southern Pine Association, a trade association formed by American loggers in the 1890s, had found Latin American markets for 10 percent of their total production by 1900. 36
Lumber firms produced 20 billion board feet of southern pine in 1909. The insatiable appetites of World War I accelerated cutting, and the ecological results were devastating. A 1919 survey declared that 92 million acres—nearly half of the region's pine acreage—was cutover land and that most of these acres were deserted, not fit for crops or cattle.
As the yellow pine forests declined, southern lumber firms began studying Caribbean Basin forests as a potential source for future supplies. 37
U.S. capital was first invested in Central American timber operations during the early 1920s. Yankee loggers could see the great difficulty of setting up financially viable operations where lumber could be transported only by the railroads owned by the banana companies or in the maddeningly shallow rivers. They also faced the legendary political turbulence of the region, which only companies the size of the fruit giants could hope to influence or withstand. A few small entrepreneurs were operating in Nicaragua by 1930, and when Sandino's revolutionary forces turned on gringo companies, the loggers joined the chorus of U.S. interests calling for protection from revolutionary nationalism. The fruit companies were powerful enough to invoke the help of the U.S. Marines - the loggers largely had to fend for themselves. 38
The trend did not last long, for by the late 1920s the pine forests in the southern United States had begun a remarkable recovery under new techniques of fire control and forestry management. 39
The pressure to look beyond U.S. borders for additional supplies rapidly diminished, and when lumber markets began to recover slowly after the early Depression years, U.S. companies returned to exporting pine lumber to Latin American and European markets.
What effects did the American lumber exports have in recipient countries? In British Honduras, despite its considerable pine reserves, little was logged apart from small amounts that were exported west into Mexico. Most building lumber used there was yellow pine imported from the American South, which gave a better finish and was available in convenient sizes. 40
Other countries with extensive pine forest resources, especially Honduras, were inhibited by powerful U.S. competition from attempting to improve the biomass production of their forests or increasing their economic value. For countries with inadequate conifer resources of their own, the United States was an important source of lumber. Imports drained national coffers, however, or increased the pressure to expand export cropping in payment.
To a trained eye, timber extraction in the hardwood and pine zones of Latin America appeared inefficient and wasteful. Surveying the forests of the region in 1929 for the Pack Forestry Foundation, Tom Gill concluded that there was little regeneration of logged tracts, and that local foresters (such as they were) seemed passively complacent about the situation.
Today...logging is a thoroughly primitive, unsatisfactory, and haphazard process. Methods are slow and wasteful, and because of the highly selective character of logging, the costs vary from merely high to prohibitive.... There is no steady flow of ties or logs or any other product. For that reason industry has been very loath to consider seriously so uncertain a source of supply. 41
It was into this setting that modern professional forestry from the North was introduced. U.S. foresters were rapidly learning how to counteract the devastation caused by rampant, unmanaged logging in the forests of temperate North America. Only a few were actively interested in the tropics as yet. These pioneers found grounds for urgency, but they were optimistic that modern scientific forestry and management practices could transform the forest into a resource that could profit the forest products industry and the welfare of tropical societies alike. Whether in this vision the future still held a species-diverse wealth of natural forest or vast expanses of tree farms - that controversy still had to be formulated sharply.
Americans and the Origins of the Forestry Profession in Latin America
Spanish foresters had left only a slight footprint on the colonial landscape. In Spain itself government agents had been at work since the 1700s to manage upland timber for commerce, to reserve certain hardwood species as a royal monopoly, and, in principle, to protect upland watersheds.
Spain's New World and Pacific colonies passed similar laws in the 1700s and 1800s, but U.S. observers after 1898 agreed that these were "paper laws," as Tom Gill called them-edicts existing only on paper. There was little or no enforcement of those laws while Spain was in the Americas, but they were the formal precedent for later American initiatives. The need for better management was urgent, for the forests throughout the region had been severely depleted in the nineteenth century. 42
American foresters first turned their professional interest south into the Caribbean in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, when the United States permanently took over Puerto Rico. The island's tropical forests were the only ones in Latin America that were directly administered by the United States. The U.S. Forest Service recognized that it was almost totally ignorant of the physical and biological properties of Caribbean forests, and in 1911 it established the U.S. Tropical Forest Experiment Station, a research station in Río Piedras, just outside San Juan, to carry out research in the Luquillo Forest Reserve. This marked the beginning of formal U.S. studies of the rainforests of the Americas, but until the 1940s the research developed very slowly. As only a branch of the Forest Service's Southeastern Experiment Station in the United States, the Puerto Rican station had no direct voice in Washington during budget debates, and Yankee hardwood companies around the Caribbean were so unstable that they made little effort to lobby for its research program.
Substantial research began in the 1920s at Río Piedras and Luquillo. It had to begin with taxonomic studies to identify and catalog the vast number of tree and shrub species in the exotic woodlands. Research was designed to broaden the range of marketable species, and for that it was important to understand life cycles and regeneration conditions - this was the beginning of the study of rainforest ecology. From the start this work was closely linked with research at the wood technology laboratory at Yale University. Samuel Record, the leading tropical wood technologist in the Americas, designed and directed the research agenda at the laboratory, and he published the results in the journal Tropical Timbers, which served the needs of tropical biological science and the timber trade alike.
In those years professional management of the Luquillo National Forest began on a modest scale. That forest became an important experimental model for tropical moist forests, offering students experience with a variety of tropical conditions. 43
Through the fledgling institute in Puerto Rico, American foresters were able to develop connections to the emerging international forestry network. In Trinidad, not far from Puerto Rico, was a British research institute, the Imperial Forest Research Institute, which was founded in the 1920s as the empire's American research base for tropical forest science. 44
The center in Trinidad was linked to the Empire Forestry Association, a worldwide network established by the British in 1921. The association published a journal, the Empire Forestry Review , and sponsored international conferences, through which it disseminated information and ideology. The Review and its American counterpart, the Journal of Forestry, which was published by the U.S. Forest Service, began publishing in the early 1920s.
In 1928 the Pack Forestry Foundation sent Tom Gill on a survey tour of the forests of the Caribbean Basin, instructing him to bring back a report detailing their extent and composition, how they were being used, their potential for a modern logging industry and silvicultural management, and how extensively they had been damaged. For many months Gill traveled throughout the Caribbean and the mainland of Mexico and Central America. He explored a vast rainforest reserve, much of it largely untouched by the outside world. Only a small, scattered population of peasant farmers and remnant Indian tribes subsisted in the forest. He found few roads, railroads, or other signs of industrial-era penetration. Such logging as he found was mostly small and local in scale. Loggers used rough axes and handsaws to fell the trees, and bullocks hauled the logs from the forest to antiquated sawmills whose machinery wasted a large portion of each log. The loggers were totally unsupervised by government officials or trained foresters, and such forestry laws as existed on paper in a few countries were never enforced on the ground.
The industry was still primitive in contrast to the massive wood products corporations that had been established in the United States. Gill found this both good and bad. He observed that logging south of the border had not ravaged the forest resource as it had in the United States, but neither had it been utilized to meet the needs of Latin American society or to help lift local populations out of deep poverty. The industry had not even been able to meet local demands for construction timber: users imported yellow pine from the southeastern states and redwood and Douglas fir from the northwest coast of the United States, using precious foreign exchange. A more modernized industry could entirely avoid that embarrassing symptom of underdevelopment.
Gill's recipe for the future was to modernize timber processing by building capital-intensive, highly efficient mills that could process more species and waste a smaller portion of each log. Gill recommended that governments invest in better transport facilities, so as to take timber products inexpensively to distant markets. These improvements could be dangerous, he knew: modernization would allow the faster penetration of forests but would not guarantee better management.
The Caribbean countries also needed accelerated research in order to understand how tropical forest ecosystems function. Better biological knowledge was the prerequisite to improved silviculture-management of the forest-which could assure the sustained yield of all marketable species. Essential to good forest management were proper and enforceable laws, forestry agencies to enforce them, and the development of clear legal titles to forested land, whether in private or government hands.
In sum, Gill believed that the pressures of modern life necessitated strong laws, developed by trained scientists and managers and backed by committed governments, to manage this most precious renewable resource so as to meet immediate economic needs and also to nurture it for the long biological future. Local people could not do this-they just lived from day to day in their poverty-nor could those who were working the forest at the time, since they were concerned only with each season's profit.
Gill's book includes lyrical descriptions of the forest's beauty and mystery, impatience with and warnings about the existing Ladino management of the forest, and confidence that modern forestry could both use and preserve this great resource without losing it to the Promethean power of modern machines. His writing also reveals a paternalism verging on condescension toward local forest people and their knowledge and management of the resource. He saw that conuco-slash and burn-cropping techniques produced erosion on hillsides, but he could not distinguish between the ancient sustainable system of multicrop rotation practiced by the indigenous Indians and the destructive maize-beans milpa plots of peasants who had been dispossessed from lowland farms by landlords, either local or foreign.
At that stage of his career, Gill was primarily concerned with expanding wood products for commercial markets; he understood little, and inquired little, about the many nontimber forest products in local use. Like all foresters of his generation, he looked from the top down and from the outside in. His knowledge of trees and love of the forest were exemplary; his knowledge of and curiosity about the local cultures and their use of the forest were rudimentary. Gill's worries about the likely future deterioration of the tropical rainforest were totally appropriate. In his later years, before his death in 1971, he lived to see and protest a steady acceleration of forest clearance in all three tropical continents.
In the 1930s the small group of Americans at Río Piedras began to develop liaisons with foresters working in the independent countries of Latin America. No formal international organization yet existed to facilitate those contacts-such organizations developed more readily in parts of the tropics that were still under colonial rule. Because the foresters at Río Piedras were employees of the U.S. Forest Service, however, they were not bound by the fiscal constraints of private companies. In addition to their research on forest biology and timber products, they could address the broader issues of forestry law and administration in each country and promote the training of competent forest managers. Their agenda was therefore far broader and more ambitious than that of their counterparts who worked in private industry. Corporations did not own forestland, and their contracts were short in term and insecure.
Contacts with Mexico led the way, aided by long-established connections with the father of Mexican natural resources management, Miguel de Quevedo. Thirty years of his work finally resulted in the Mexican government passing forest laws in 1936 (which were based on American law) and establishing its first forestry training program. 45
Aside from this, Latin American countries had no real administrative or technical capacity to design or enforce forestry laws before the 1950s. 46
Government timber inspectors were usually untrained, and often corrupt.
By the early 1940s the British and American scientists, working together, had carried out some detailed ecological studies, which led to a few experiments in which exotic tree species were planted and assessed for their possible commercial value. The researchers were not given even minimal resources to enable them to study such basic matters as watershed protection or the impact of forest fire. Surprisingly, they were not even able to initiate studies of forest economics. 47
The efforts of forest scientists and administrators had little impact against the increasing incidence of high-grading and the expansion of croplands before World War II. In 1940 Gill's ten-year-old conclusions were still valid: little effective forest management existed in the American tropics. Nevertheless, the groundwork was being laid for what would emerge with postwar peace. The tiny fraternity of American tropical foresters was able to accomplish far more in a far more remote tropical setting in the south Pacific.
American Colonial Forestry and Timber Harvests in the Philippines
American forestry operations in Southeast Asia before World War II present a striking contrast to events in the Caribbean Basin for two reasons. First, a complex trade in tropical hardwoods controlled by the Chinese and Europeans had existed throughout the region for centuries before the Americans arrived. Second, in 1904 American foresters were given the direct responsibility of constructing a forestry service for the islands; in the Caribbean, Americans had similar control only in Puerto Rico. The Philippine Islands played a pivotal role in the history of tropical logging and silviculture in the United States and Southeast Asia, for it was there that U.S. foresters and timber firms learned the methods of systematic tropical logging.
By the 1920s the alliance forged between American foresters and loggers and their Filipino counterparts and protégés had produced a forest economy that was as modernized as any in tropical Asia. The Philippines became a stage that showcased the tropical foresters' great gamble with technological and political power. The advanced technology of timber extraction that was developed in the Philippines turned the islands into one of the first great tropical timber exporters, but it also prepared the way for the tragic devastation of the islands' vast forest cover that began after 1946, the year of Philippine independence. The interplay of American rule and Filipino society resulted in reckless and often illegal deforestation after 1950. In recent years the natural wealth of these forests has been squandered, and the biotic treasures of the islands have been decimated. 48
Export markets drove the exploitation of the Philippines' lowland forests. Although the islands were net importers of timber in 1900, by the 1920s that trend had been reversed. Hardwood timber was shipped to many markets, primarily in the United States. By 1960 the Philippines were the single largest forest products exporter in Southeast Asia. Little of the forest being cut was growing back as a timber resource; the nation was steadily borrowing from the future, with sobering consequences. The roots of the tragedy lay in the power of the country's landowning elite, which controlled the export of timber as well as sugar and other plantation crops.
Southeast Asia's Timber Economy Before the American Era
When the Philippine Islands fell to the United States in 1898, America inherited one of the great treasures on the planet. Much of lowland Southeast Asia is covered by a richly diverse rainforest dominated by the Dipterocarpaceae family of giant hardwoods. In other areas are seasonally dry monsoon forests, which have a different biological composition dominated either by deciduous species or by extensive stands of pine. In brackish coastal lowlands are some of the most extensive mangrove ecosystems in the world. 49
The evergreen dipterocarp rainforest represents a species composition that is almost entirely different from that found in the humid tropics of Latin America and Africa, but both types of rainforest can contain several hundred tree species in a small acreage. 50
Its exquisite biotic complexity dazzled but baffled early western observers, who saw it as both intimidating and a challenge to conquer. 51
Southeast Asia had long produced a harvest and international trade of tropical timber products that far exceeded that of either Latin America or Africa. The hardwood trade was highly competitive, and penetrating it proved to be a difficult challenge for western interests. For many centuries before westerners first arrived in the early 1500s, there was a lively international trade in both specialty woods and many nontimber forest products throughout the region. 52
Hardwoods and aromatic species such as sandalwood and sappanwood had their major market in the regionally powerful markets of China. Many nontimber products were exported as well. Tribal communities of the forested highlands harvested animal skins, bird feathers, and medicinal herbs, exchanging them with traders from the lowlands and coasts at semipermanent riverside or coastal locations. These products were then exported, in a complex exchange of goods and money. 53
European penetration of the Southeast Asian economy began in 1511 when Albuquerque conquered the trade-based kingdom of Malacca on the Malayan mainland across from Sumatra. The Portuguese were interested primarily in interdicting the Asian-Arab trade in pepper and spices, which were harvested in the native forests of Indonesia's equatorial islands. The Portuguese made no attempt to penetrate the hardwood trade or to change the pattern of land use in the region. That began to change when they were displaced by the Dutch East India Company.
The Dutch began their conquest of Java in 1619, and from then until 1949 they maintained an extractive empire in Indonesia. They built ships using teak from the forests of eastern Java; as early as 1755 they employed 650 men at their shipyards in Batavia. They purchased the timber from local Javanese and Chinese traders whose small boats sailed the north coast of the island. By the 1700s they began purchasing large tracts of inland teak forest from Javanese rulers. After the Napoleonic Wars, in a forward surge of colonial administrative power, they began exploiting the great teak forests directly. The decimation of the forest continued until 1849, when the colonial regime imported three German foresters in the first step toward developing sustainable timber production. 54
Teak was a product that promised sustained timber harvests. Unlike almost all other Asian hardwoods, teak thrives in single-species plantations. In the teak forests of British India, both along the Malabar Coast and in upper Burma, rotational growth and logging in managed one-species teak plantations was beginning to be assured by the mid-nineteenth century. In the multispecies dipterocarp forests the situation was much more difficult. When the Americans began extracting rain-forest hardwoods from the Philippines shortly after 1900, they were not so fortunate as to find teak growing there.
Lauan-Philippine mahogany-had been exported from the Philippines for centuries before the Spanish conquerors arrived in the 1570s. In a pattern typical of many parts of Southeast Asia, local men cut the trees and Chinese merchants exported the timber, much of it heading to markets in southern China. The immensity of the forest resources on the Philippine Islands was evident to the Spanish colonial rulers, but they were able to exploit that wealth only fragmentarily. At the end of the Spanish era in 1898, primary forests covered fully two-thirds of the islands' territory, and three-quarters of that were dipterocarp forests. 55
Mature lauan trees are the great commercial timber wealth of the Philippines, but once logged they regenerate very slowly. Hence loggers operated largely in the shrinking virgin forests.
The Spanish regime placed most of its attention on Manila's hinterland, on the island of Luzon. European officials frequently struck up alliances with the men they called caciques, those who already held power in the towns and countryside well before the Spaniards arrived. In joint control of the land, these two groups proceeded to transform large lowland areas of Luzon into haciendas that produced sugar and other crops. 56
Many of the other islands retained much of their forest cover through the 1800s.
Spanish law stipulated that all untilled land belonged to the state. 57
In the Philippines this meant that virtually all forestland came to be government owned, a principle that was codified in the 1863 law that established the Inspección de Montes, or Forestry Bureau. The main function of the Inspección was to systematize the Crown's claims to forestlands and to stipulate which areas would be more valuable as arable land than as forested public domain. 58
In its few years of work, the bureau did little to administer or even to study the islands' forests, whose composition was still largely unknown except to the tribal groups who subsisted in them. Furthermore, the bureau did little to regulate or improve commercial logging. By 1898 logging was still primitive and localized. Trees were cut by light, blunt axes, then hauled by carabao (water buffalo) to rivers, then the logs floated to sawmills downstream. There were only five or six power-driven sawmills in the country, all of them in the environs of Manila.
A considerable amount of the country's lumber trade took the form of small interisland log shipments on sailboats. Much of this was handled by resident Chinese traders, who controlled a large portion of the local market economy around the islands. 59
The Chinese had been exporting hardwoods to China and beyond for centuries, both salt-water-resistant species for ships and wharves and lauan for elegant cabinetry and building purposes. 60
In the last years of the old century this trade was temporarily disrupted, first by warfare in the Philippines after 1896, and then by endemic political upheaval in China. Under the American regime after 1900 the Chinese traders returned to prosperity and used that strength as an important base for their rise to a powerful position in the timber economy throughout Southeast Asia. The Chinese exporters were gradually joined by Spanish and British entrepreneurs, who controlled exports to Europe. The first U.S. link to the islands' timber wealth appeared in the 1890s, when Philippine companies began importing redwood and Douglas fir for their building projects in Manila.
American companies with early interests in the Philippines included those with links to British logging operations on Sabah, in the northernmost region of Borneo. 61
Like much of the international trade of the southwest Pacific at the height of the imperialist scramble, this was a high-risk business. No American company or logger survived for long until U.S. rule was formally established in the Philippines after 1898. That political change brought the stability and control that timber operators needed if they were to make any major return on their investments.
The Bureau of Forestry and the Loggers
In the decades after the Spanish-American War, the exploitation of forest wealth in the Philippines was distinctively shaped by American logging and forestry practices and by the ways the U.S. regime's Bureau of Forestry functioned within the overall American colonial system centered in Manila. The U.S. government was almost totally unprepared to take on colonial rule in the tropics. It was familiar with the colonial systems of the Dutch, British, and French, and it knew something about the region's centuries-old international trade in tropical hardwoods-but I knew little about the forest ecosystems that I was about to manage and exploit.
Forestry in the United States at the turn of the century was still in its infancy, but it was being rapidly shaped by Bernhard Fernow and then by his successor, Gifford Pinchot. 62
George P. Ahern, protégé of Fernow and Pinchot, became the creator of modern forestry management and timber exploitation in the Philippines. 63
Son of a New York labor organizer, Ahern went to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He might never have reached the Philippines had it not been for the U.S. Army. When his days at West Point were over, he was posted to Minnesota, where the white pine forests were being decimated. In the following years he saw firsthand the ecological and cultural damage wrought by the march of European-American civilization across the continent. From Minnesota he moved to South Dakota, where he was translator for the defeated Indian chief Sitting Bull. There and in Montana he spent several years as an explorer, geologist, and hunter. His social and cultural sympathies were wide, he was technically versatile, and his experience of wanton deforestation had sobered him. In the mid-1880s he began planning forest reserves in Montana, and it was here that he came into contact with Fernow and Pinchot. 64
In 1898 Ahern was sent to Cuba during the Spanish-American War. When his leg was injured, he was posted to the fledgling military administration of the Philippines. The Americans now controlled one of the great rainforests of the planet, and they had much to learn about it. Pinchot, as head of the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, arranged for Ahern to be assigned the job of creating a forestry bureau in the new colony. His task was to learn as rapidly as possible the rudiments of Southeast Asian forest biology, assemble a team to work with him, and design a system of forestry laws.
In 1901 Ahern wrote to Pinchot, urging him to visit the islands and tour their forest resources with him. Pinchot was delighted to have his first view of the tropical abundance, because, as he later wrote, "of experience in tropical Forestry I had exactly none. But I had learned something about Forestry in Burma and in British India from Dr. Brandis" 65
(the founder of British colonial forestry, with whom Pinchot had studied in England). Pinchot arrived in Manila in October 1901, after crossing imperial Russia's vast forest region on the Trans-Siberian Express. Ahern met him and took him immediately to Malacanan Palace, the new home of William Howard Taft, the governor of the islands. Taft had arranged for his official yacht, a 1,400-ton gunboat, to take Pinchot and Ahern on a month-long survey tour of the islands, and he promised to implement whatever regulations they proposed. Pinchot delighted in the comfort and authority of the ship, writing to his mother, "This is the proudest way to travel in my experience. A vessel 212 feet long, with a crew of 78 men, to go where you like when you like." 66
He loved the life of a proconsul, surveying his realm of rainforest and its people in efficiency and comfort.
On their first stop, Mindoro Island, where U.S. timber operations would soon begin, they walked for a day "through almost distressingly interesting tropical forest, where every tree was new and strange." 67
The two men visited every major island, taking copious notes on the forests, the local economy, and the people. Their fascination focused on scores of tree species that they had never seen before. They delighted in the beauty and grandeur of the trees-yet at the same time they were calculating their potential value as timber. In southern Negros, south of the region of new sugar plantations, they hiked into a forest that Pinchot called "the most luxuriant I have yet seen, and in by far the best silvicultural condition. On the lower slopes it consisted of old trees from 130 to 150 feet in height, frequently with from 90 to 100 feet of clear trunk, standing in a selection forest in which all age classes were represented." 68
The two men began to design a system of sustainable timber exploitation. Existing logging operations in the rainforest could not have been further from sustainable. Pinchot recorded in his diary that on the southernmost island, Mindanao, they sought out one well-known sawmill. The operation was owned by the Philippine Lumber and Development Company,
whose manager, Mr. Bourns, had much pull at Manila (but not with Taft). We expected to find bad work, and we found it. Everywhere we went the untouched forest was in a superb condition. [Yet] I have never seen a more complete slash.. ..Everything was destroyed as far as logging had gone. Unquestionably the kind of logging now going on will lead to erosion of the most serious character on a surface so steep as to be totally unfit for agriculture. 69
It was urgently important to stop such logging operations, and the only way to do that was to design strict forest laws and to train a generation of foresters who would have the authority to control both the ravaging work and the corrupt influence in Manila that protected it. Returning to Manila, Pinchot and Ahern designed a set of laws that Taft's regime officially adopted in 1904. The carte blanche that Taft had given them was backed by President Roosevelt's complete trust. This was the fulfillment of the Progressive dream: full authority had been placed in the hands of those who knew best what was necessary to meet human and biological needs. Pinchot outlined the forestry system in a long letter to Taft. In the preface he stated,
The internal condition of the forests, the degree of governmental control, the efficiency and spirit of the Insular forest service organized by Captain Ahern, and the general economic situation, combine to present the best opportunity for successful and profitable forest administration of which I have knowledge.. ..A great development of forest industries in the Islands is evidently at hand. If this development is not to be accompanied by serious, extensive, and permanent injury to the forests, preparation by study and experiment must begin at once. 70
Pinchot returned to Washington, leaving the future of the Philippine forests in Ahern's hands. From then until he returned to the United States in 1914, Ahern was the creator and shaper of modern forestry for the islands. He was committed equally to rapidly modernizing the timber industry of the country and to making the forest wealth serve the longterm needs of the Philippine people. Both ambitions were, at best, only ambiguously fulfilled.
Ahern was confident that modern scientific forestry and the rapid expansion of timber exports could overcome the pervasive poverty of the islands. One urgent priority was to modernize timber operations so that the islands would no longer have to rely on imported lumber for domestic needs. In 1917, looking back on his years there, he reminisced that "communities living in sight of virgin forests imported lumber from abroad. Near such forests were people living in houses of thatch and bamboo." 71
The Philippines had been importing building timber since the nineteenth century despite the great riches of its forests. Like many of the rapidly expanding ports of the southern Pacific rim, Manila was being built with timber from the U.S. Pacific Northwest. 72
For Ahern and the men he hired to work with him (including Filipinos who had already been serving in the Inspección de Montes under the Spanish), reversing that pattern was a matter of establishing competent laws, organizing their effective administration, and linking that system to the most up-to-date, large-scale logging technology.
The forestry law adopted in 1904 carried over major elements of its Spanish precedent, including the provision that declared almost all the forested land to be government property. It created the Bureau of Forestry and gave it great powers, including the authority to decide which forests would be more appropriate as agriculture and which would be retained permanently in forest cover.
The bureau also had the authority to regulate commercial logging by granting timber concessions. If a company applying for a concession could demonstrate that it had adequate capital, machinery, and management for the task, it could receive a license for ten to fifty years. To encourage the expansion of the industry, the bureau looked in particular for large firms possessing the most advanced technology and the strongest capitalization, and it granted most of its large concessions for long terms. It also granted short-term leases, usually of one year, which were meant to provide lumber for local use. In both cases the bureau was required to specify conditions for cutting and marketing, although in practice its inadequate staff and limited funding often left that supervisory work undone. Foresters were also charged with the collection of stipulated stumpage fees and other timber taxes. 73
The felling laws directed timber firms to clear-cut the forest on good agricultural land below elevations of 500 feet. On land inappropriate for agriculture, foresters would select marketable trees for felling, imposing a minimum diameter of 40 centimeters (14 inches) for hardwoods. Stressing maximum growth rates more than maximum biotic diversity, the laws indicated that all commercially valuable trees over 75 centimeters in diameter should be cut. If the species was not considered commercially useful, loggers were allowed to remove all trees regardless of size. 74
The Bureau of Forestry immediately forged close working relations with logging companies, especially American firms that were interested in expanding their operations to the Philippines. Often the bureau carried out detailed field studies and planning for these firms. The results were impressive: major American firms began operating in the islands almost as soon as the forestry laws were in place.
Ahern and Pinchot knew their commercial counterparts well. Their contacts with the timber industry in the American northwest immediately yielded fruit when the Insular Lumber Company, the first modern lumber company in the Philippines, was launched in 1904. Headed by W. P. Clark, a leading manufacturer of sawmill equipment in Seattle, Insular took advantage of the new law to gain a 115-square-mile timber concession in the lauan forests of Negros, which was beginning intensive forest clearing for sugar plantations. Thereafter, sugar expansion and lumber operations were closely linked, and their alliance was far more efficient than were those anywhere in Latin America. As one forester observed with pride six years later, "The operations are an exact copy of the lumbering operations of a large company in Seattle, Washington, and the sawmill, of 100,000 board-feet daily capacity, is as thoroughly fitted up with up-to-date appliances and as well run as almost any mill in America.. ..All this is a new venture, believed to be utterly impossible a few years ago." 75
The technological transformation was immediate and dramatic. On tour several years later, the leading American forester and ecologist Barrington Moore, although skeptical of some of the aspects of forest management that he saw, wrote, "In utilizing the forests the most astounding progress has been made from a lumbering point of view." 76
In contrast with existing logging methods in the islands, which used only rough axes for cutting and carabao for hauling, Insular and other American-backed firms rapidly made the lumber technology in the islands the most up-to-date of any in the tropical world. In the early years, American supervisors controlled every aspect of logging operations, as "boss loggers, superintendents of logging railways, sawyers and saw filers, and yard bosses." 77
All other workers were local, including those trained for various semiskilled jobs. By 1911 Insular employed 800 Filipino and Chinese laborers, who worked under only 18 American supervisors.
Another U.S. firm that began operating at this time was the Cadwallader-Gibson Company, which launched a long-lasting operation on Manila Bay in 1904. It was almost equally as significant as the Insular Lumber Company was in the evolution of American technology in Philippine tropical forestry. Cadwallader-Gibson worked closely with the bureau over the years to refine the system of logging laws and to train Filipino recruits at the nearby national school of forestry, which was founded in 1910. 78
Under Ahern's direction the bureau also cultivated close relations with Filipino loggers, teaching and encouraging them to expand and modernize their operations. In this work, the foresters were entirely in tune with the general tenor of American colonialism in Manila, where entrepreneurs from the United States and their local counterparts evolved much closer working relationships than those that developed in many other colonial systems. In forestry as in plantation agriculture, one broad consequence of these ties was the strengthening of Manila's elite, allowing them to dominate land use after independence.
The domestic timber trade had evolved long before the Americans arrived. It had its own structure, which shaped American intentions as much as the new resources influenced its expansion. In 1916 one member of Ahern's team characterized the industry as falling into three categories according to size and complexity of operation. 79
First and smallest were the shops of the local retail trade throughout the islands. These firms cut and finished their lumber by hand. Reflecting the overall character of the commercial economy, all of these firms were Filipino or Chinese. Second in scale were the small power mills, with stocks of thousands or tens of thousands of feet of rough and milled lumber. These were more varied in scale, owned by Spaniards, Filipinos, or Chinese, as well as a couple of larger firms owned by Americans or Europeans. Third were the large specialized mills, mostly owned by Americans or British, although one was owned by Spaniards, one by Chinese, and one by a Filipino-Spanish partnership. The American foresters' goal was to modernize the Filipino firms; the entrepreneurs' goal presumably was to maximize profits with minimal governmental control over their operations.
The evolution of the Filipino-American lumbering connection and its role in transforming lowland forests into agriculture are illustrated by an important early concession, the 1905 grant to the Mindoro Lumber and Logging Company. Mindoro, the seventh largest island of the archipelago, lies only ten miles across the Verde Island Passage from the southern coast of Luzon. 80
At the turn of the century only the narrow plains of the eastern and northeastern coast had been developed; mountainous Mindoro was still relatively untouched. Mindoro had not shared the economic expansion that some islands experienced in the nineteenth century. Its total population in 1903 was only 28,300, most of it clustered around several small ports. The mountainous interior was home to various swidden-farming tribes that had not had much contact with the lowlanders. 81
The eastern lowlands of Mindoro receive between 80 and 100 inches of rain annually, mainly in July and August, and it has no severe dry season. The soils of the region are rich clays. It was an excellent setting for wet rice cultivation. The area's forests were easily accessible to the nation's major urban market, Manila. Northern Mindoro thus was one of the country's most attractive targets for loggers. The 1905 license to the Mindoro Lumber and Logging Company gave it the exclusive right to commercial logging on a tract of eighty-five square miles along the east coast. 82
The tract was mostly virgin lowland dipterocarp forest, with some mature second-growth trees. Its total population was 650. No land survey had been done and none of the inhabitants held formal land titles. Thus the company had no legal problem in operating as it wished.
Mindoro Lumber was a subsidiary of a Manila milling company; thus it is likely that it was a Filipino operation with direct connections to Ahern's forces. Mindoro Lumber became an important actor in the category of medium-sized firms that produced lumber for the rapidly expanding Manila market, a dimension of the timber industry that was controlled by Filipinos and Chinese, not foreigners.
The Mindoro Lumber Company's sawmill processed mostly lauan, but it handled smaller amounts of several other species as well. The company still relied on carabao to haul the logs to the water, but it also used some newly imported American equipment, including heavy American axes and a portable sawmill. The lumber was shipped to Manila by small steamer or sailboat. Manila's construction market was booming, and the company had no trouble finding buyers.
Firms like Mindoro Lumber prospered, and their expansion was reflected in the rapid rise of national timber production figures. Nonetheless, conflicts between the Bureau of Forestry and Filipino commercial interests soon became evident. The landed and commercial elite resisted any system of sustained-yield logging, and their opposition quickly found a political voice in the national legislature. The lower house, which was made up entirely of elected Filipinos, annually opposed any additions to the bureau's budget, making it impossible for the bureau to establish operations in the richly forested islands. 83
In those years Dean Worcester was the secretary of the interior for the colonial government and the most influential American in the islands. In 1915 he criticized local lumbermen for wanting only quick profits and resisting restraints on their access to the forest. 84
He knew that they had power as a lobby, and he worried-prophetically-about their capacity to circumvent the bureau's regulatory powers. Moore, on an inspection tour five years earlier, had found that the legislative constraint on the forestry budget was accompanied by strong pressure to maximize timber harvests, presumably for both private profit and public revenue. 85
As Moore well understood, a race was developing between those who favored the expansion of the timber industry and those who supported sustained-yield forest management: the long-term fate of the forest would depend to a considerable degree on the changing balance between the two. The result of the combination of these forces was a rapid expansion of cutting.
Until the 1920s Philippine timber primarily supplied domestic markets. Ahern's ambition was to make the Philippines an exporter of timber, and to make the timber industry an important contributor to the islands' net balance of trade, by marketing Philippine timbers to the burgeoning ports of Hong Kong, Nagasaki, Shanghai, Sydney, and Singapore. Both Ahern and Clark saw that the markets of the western Pacific promised great demand for Philippine lumber. Insular Lumber, Clark's company, successfully introduced lauan timber to international markets as Philippine mahogany. By 1920 lauan and similar species, particularly red lauan, were replacing American redwood in western Pacific ports.
Timber exports expanded very slowly. One major stumbling block was the lack of standardized timber grading
In 1910, very early in the colonial years, Ahern set up a college of forestry at Los Baños, not far outside Manila, where his team began training Filipino foresters. Some of the first graduates of the basic course there were sent on to Yale Forestry School, the alma mater of Pinchot, for advanced training in American forestry management. By the mid-1920s nearly all foresters in the islands were Filipino: the entire five-hundred-man hierarchy of guards, rangers, and foresters was made up of nationals, except for five Americans at the top. In 1936 Arthur Fischer, the last American chief of the bureau, turned his office over to his Yale-seasoned protégé and friend, Florencio Tamesis. From that time forward Americans were only consultants. No other tropical colony moved local men into authority over forest resources so fast.
The American trainers had done their job systematically. Their local protégés had adopted the skills, values, and perspectives of the forestry fraternity. They knew how to harvest timber from the lauan forests efficiently and market it internationally. They were sure that this made a major contribution to the nation's economic growth. They argued that this was the only way to generate the revenue that would carry the industry beyond mere high-grading. And despite the enormous remaining task of scientific study of rainforest biology, they were convinced that they had the tools to accomplish it. Not surprisingly, their conception of competence precluded a full understanding of the forest peoples and their lifeways.
Internationally the new work of modern forestry was a profession with high social prestige. In tropical countries especially, foresters were recruited almost exclusively from high status backgrounds; the social perspectives of their class fit well with the profession's belief in the prerogatives of expertise. Filipino foresters were almost exclusively recruited from the landed class, with its links to Manila society. These young men understood the realities of urban and international markets and assumed that urbanization and rising standards of consumption were the pattern of progress. Except for those who specialized in laboratory analysis or sawmill technology, they loved being in the deep forest, discovering new species of trees, shrubs, and vines. They were paternalistic or hostile to the agrarian poor and at best condescending to the tribal cultures of the mountain forests.
When the global economy contracted sharply in 1930, markets for tropical primary products went into a state of collapse. The economy of the Philippines was no exception, and timber exports declined with other commodities. The worldwide depression did not affect the overall pattern of ownership in the timber industry. The political setting did change significantly in 1935, when a new constitution brought the islands Commonwealth status and internal autonomy, one step short of total independence. The new government, dominated by the landlords, set about legislating to defend Filipino commercial interests against foreign competition, especially the Chinese. The special ties with U.S. lumber interests were carefully preserved, however: under the new legislation, only Filipino or U.S. firms could be given long timber leases. Investment by other foreigners was limited to 40 percent of a firm's capital. In 1939, as the Depression was lifting but the Pacific was drifting toward war, investment in the Philippine sawmill industry, which had an estimated $15.5 million capitalization, came from several nations: 42 percent was U.S. capital, 26 percent was Filipino, 12 percent was Chinese, 7 percent was British, and 4 percent was Japanese. 104
By that time the logging industry stood fifth in capital investment in the country, fourth in the value of its production, and second in the size of its labor force. It had become a major force in the national economy, in part because the Bureau of Forestry had spent years developing foreign markets for tropical timbers. The market for Philippine timber grew most rapidly in Europe, where red lauan and many other specialty woods were gaining popularity. The United States remained the largest single market, one the bureau continued to cultivate. A booklet issued by the bureau in 1939 reminded its potential buyers that when Americans bought Philippine lumber, they were "helping not only the Filipinos, but also the American lumbermen in the Philippines and the American machine manufacturers in the United States." 105
The symbiosis between American and Philippine lumber industries was shattered by World War II. During the Japanese occupation of the islands, the Philippine economy, including agriculture and forestry, and urban life were totally disrupted. Many Filipino foresters joined the resistance against the Japanese occupation, and forest administration and control dissolved. The last year of the war was the most destructive. As the Japanese forces retreated, they destroyed nearly all the sawmill machinery in the country. They left Manila and other cities badly battered. In the process of withdrawing from the Manila area, the Japanese burned the records of the Bureau of Forestry and leveled the college of forestry at Los Baños. 106
The war left a legacy of severe social disruption on forested land. The upheavals of the war dispossessed masses of peasant squatters, who were still looking for new land after the war was over. In 1948 Tamesis summarized the dilemma of social policy that the foresters faced.
Forest destruction increased after the liberation. Illegal clearings to alleviate the food shortage destroyed valuable forests. On account of the tremendous demand for timber, illegal cutting and timber smuggling became widespread. The great number of unlicensed firearms left over from guerrilla warfare makes enforcement of forest law difficult, especially in the more remote regions. 107
The most pressing task after the end of the war was the islands' final transition to independence, which was accomplished in 1946. The rebuilding of the country and its economy began simultaneously, starting with ravaged Manila. The devastated timber industry revived rapidly. Approximately one hundred cast-off U.S. military sawmills were installed, old lumber was recycled, and new supplies were milled. 108
The small-scale local lumber industry recovered especially fast: most of the rebuilding of Manila passed through the hands of ninety Chinese dealers, who charged high prices. In the nationalistic mood of the time, local resentment against those timber dealers fueled legislative efforts to dislodge ethnic Chinese from their dominant position in the nation's retail trade. 109
Gradually, as the political system and economy stabilized, the forest wealth of the Philippines was tapped again. The islands became the great supplier of timber products to Southeast Asia, a leading source of export earnings for the government, and a source of enormous wealth and power for individuals, many of whom began logging illegally. Market demand rapidly outstripped administrative control in the forests, for the forestry administration could not be reestablished in the countryside until the early 1950s.
Global Markets and the Deforestation of the Philippines after 1945
In the course of the 1950s the Philippines regained their prewar position of Southeast Asia's largest producer and exporter of hardwood timber. This position was based on the islands' market economy, which was one of the most developed in the tropical world, and its forestry system, which had been one of the most advanced in the colonial world. Southeast Asia dominated global tropical forest production throughout the post-World War II era. 110
The 1950s saw a sharp decline in production costs of lauan plywood and veneer, and Philippine lauan exports dominated the Southeast Asian industry through the 1960s. 111
Although Americans were no longer in charge of industry or government policy, U.S. interests continued to concentrate in the Philippines until the late 1960s, when they moved for a short while into Borneo. In 1949 forest products were 1.3 percent of the country's total exports; a decade later, by 1959, they had become 15 percent of total exports. 112
Major profits were flowing into entrepreneurial pockets-but the country's forests were being rapidly depleted. The Bureau of Forestry recovered very slowly from its wartime decimation, and it had little power to control the issuance or management of timber concessions.
The College of Forestry at Los Baños was slow to recover after the war. Although a new generation of forestry recruits went to Yale for training, especially in wood technology, from 1946 on, 113
the college itself was effectively revived only in 1957, with major assistance from the Division of Forestry and Forest Products of the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Association (FAO) and the U.S. International Cooperation Agency (the forerunner of USAID). 114
In the mid-1960s the timber supply in Philippine forests began to decline precipitously as its virgin forests began to disappear. The gamble taken by the American foresters in the previous generation-that more efficient, larger-scale logging technology could both utilize and sustain the Philippine forests-had apparently failed. Timber merchants with powerful political leverage in Manila and a burgeoning squatter population with political patrons in the countryside were the twin forces that were driving a disastrously rapid deforestation of the Philippines.
For many reasons the Bureau of Forestry was politically unable to raise stumpage fees and other timber taxes to reflect rapidly rising world prices. Consequently the government began to lose large amounts of potential revenue, money that went instead into private pockets. 115
Management of the country's forestlands was also becoming more fragmented because several government agencies had influence over land use planning. 116
The world market for lauan grew insatiably and profits soared for those who logged the timber, whether legally or illegally. Equipped with a new generation of more powerful logging and milling machinery, Filipino and foreign loggers dramatically increased their operations after 1960. Even Palawan island, a frontier 350 miles from Manila and the last great island forest in the Philippines, began to reel under the blows of ax and saw. 117
The race to cut the last easily accessible lauan forests accelerated rapidly after 1965, when Ferdinand Marcos was elected president of the republic. Marcos's rule was effectively a dictatorship, and his policies of "crony capitalism" bled the country dry: he rewarded his friends with vast short-term timber concessions, and they profited from the islands' natural resources. 118
Trade statistics from these years dramatically register the shrinkage of timber supplies. The late 1960s saw a steady decline in timber production, exports, and earnings. Between 1968 and 1969, and 1974 and 1975, log production fell from 11.58 million cubic meters to 8.44 million. Exports in the same years fell from 8.65 million cubic meters, with a value of $232 million, to 4.6 million cubic meters, with a value of $198 million. Logs and lumber exports, after more than doubling in the mid-1960s, fell from 4 billion board feet in 1970 to under 1 billion in 1985. By 1985, purchasing power from earnings had fallen to 13 percent of the 1970 level. 119
By the mid-1970s 13.1 million acres of the Philippines were listed as treeless ex-forestland; much of this was critical watershed. Moreover, logging roads led to the destruction of far more than just trees: they allowed squatters to penetrate the region. Squatters slashed and burned patches of forest, planted survival crops that they tended for a brief time, and then turned the degraded land over to cattle. 120
The loss of forest cover is difficult to assess precisely, because several surveys since the 1950s have presented widely varying figures. It is significant that Bureau of Forestry statistics for the amount of land that has been deforested are regularly much lower than those from other sources. A somber trend is clear. David Kummer, in the most systematic analysis, concludes that the nation's forest cover shrank from 50 percent of its total surface in 1950 to 44 percent in 1957, 35 percent in 1969, and to a mere 22 to 24 percent in 1987. 121
The figures express a seemingly irreversible depletion of forest stock. By 1976 the Bureau of Forestry had reforested only 52,000 acres. 122
This growing crisis was reflected in the constant changes made by the government to the terms of timber concessions and the regularity of the violations made by the timber corporations. In 1959 Nicolas Lansigan, head of the Society of Filipino Foresters, attacked the lumber barons publicly, concluding, "While some lumbermen are decidedly of the desirable type who are frankly worried about the fate of the forests and the future of their investments. ..many are plain timber miners of the cut-and-get-out variety." 123
The complaint illustrates the running tension between foresters and loggers. Lansigan's criticism also reveals the strain that was typical between foresters and villagers. The tension was generated by the slash-and-burn squatters, who were supported in increasing numbers by local landlords who used them to gain control of government forestlands.
And the kaingineros! They are now the lords of the forests. Many of them have taken the "land-for-the-landless" policy as the green light to squat at the nearest forest land.. ..Forest officers have grown tired hailing them to court.. ..Since that ill-fated day one President on the spot released some kaingineros from jail, the situation has never been the same. Squatters are literally sticking out their tongues at the poor forestry men doing their duty. 124
Forestry management had become deeply entangled with social and political controversies, but the foresters had made no effort yet to distinguish traditional agroforestry systems from the effects of social displacement, or production forestry from rainforest conservation.
American Foresters and Timber Corporations after Independence
In their new postwar and postindependence role in the Philippines, Americans had no political or administrative power, but as consultants they could continue to monitor and perhaps marginally influence the trend of forest exploitation. The Truman administration saw the value of maintaining close professional ties between the two countries, as well as encouraging the further expansion of Philippine exports of primary products to American markets. In 1951 American timber specialist Winslow Gooch was sent to the Philippines to conduct a two-year study of the country's forest resources. The study was sponsored by the Mutual Security Agency (the U.S. bureau that replaced the Economic Cooperation Administration after the Marshall Plan ended in 1951) and was directed by Tamesis.
Gooch's final report to the agency was a highly specific survey of timber supplies, logging companies, forest laws, forest products of all kinds including nontimber products, and useful information for potential concessionaires. It showed a vital, varied, and internationally competitive wood products industry among the Filipinos themselves. Gooch also noted that the Bureau of Forestry and other agencies were having some trouble enforcing forest laws against illegal operators and exporters. 125
Of the few American foresters who visited the country in these years, the most prestigious was Tom Gill. The Philippine government and the U.S. International Cooperation Agency cosponsored Gill's tour of the islands in 1959. He was commissioned to assess the quality of logging and forestry operations throughout the islands, and he was appalled at what he saw. Addressing the Philippine Lumber Producers Association in Manila at the end of his tour, Gill reported, "Some weeks ago I flew over and visited Cebu, Bohol and Negros. Parts of these islands made me think I was back again in Korea, North China, or the man-made deserts of Mexico. For I saw thousands upon thousands of hectares of cut-over, burned-over and abandoned land, pock-marked with red and yellow scars of bare earth at the mercy of sun, wind and rain." 126
Irresponsible lumbermen bore half the brunt of his critique; landless squatters and their political patrons bore the rest. "The legitimate landless Filipino, sincerely looking for a place to make a home, is being rapidly replaced by professional squatters organized very often by someone higher up.. ..The result is. ..a land grab that could go down as one of the most notorious in history-a nation being robbed of the very thing that makes existence possible-the soil and the productivity of the soil." 127
Gill's sympathy for his colleagues in the forestry service was reflected in his recommendations for reform. He advised the Philippine government to greatly increase the Bureau of Forestry's budget, to reflect its value to the treasury and to the nation, and to strengthen its power so that it could prosecute the loggers and squatters who violated the forestry laws. He maintained that timber leases should be awarded only to the most efficient and responsible loggers and that the leases be awarded on a long-term basis, long enough to make it worth the loggers' while to invest in the next generation of trees. 128
Although his formulas were plausible, they did not address the root of the trouble: the broader political and economic forces that were at work in a politically polarized society. His recommendations did not suggest that foresters and villagers should cooperate in managing the resource: his advice was entirely paternalistic. 129
One of the major purposes of Gill's tour was to encourage American timber corporations to invest in the Philippines. Gill hoped that more enlightened cooperation would develop between American timber corporations and Filipino loggers. This hope was largely fulfilled in at least one joint venture, the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines, or PICOP, the largest and most modern paper manufacturer in the islands. The firm's roots stretched back into the 1930s, when Andres Soriano, a Spanish immigrant, first invested in Philippine industry and built the family fortune primarily by producing San Miguel beer. 130
In 1935 Soriano joined a group of Filipino investors in Manila to found the country's first paper manufacturing firm, largely to replace imported packing materials in the sugar industry (another instance of the modernization of a tropical forest industry being linked to a major export crop).
In 1951 the Soriano family invited the world's largest paper company, the International Paper Corporation of Washington state, to become a partner in developing a paper industry in the Philippines that would use native wood stock. The American firm agreed, but it took a decade of research before they believed they had the technology to produce reliable paper pulp from the hardwoods available on the islands. PICOP was launched as a joint venture in 1963. By 1974 PICOP was capitalized at $72 million and controlled 80 percent of the paper pulp industry in the islands. By 1980 it was the largest forest products company in all of Southeast Asia and was praised internationally. One leading forestry expert praised it for its "mastery of papermaking from mixed tropical hardwoods; major commitments to plantation forestry, unequalled anywhere in Asia, and silvicultural research; dedication to community and social development; underwriting tree farming, food production and seeking to break dependence on shifting agriculture." 131
Unfortunately, PICOP's innovative management was expensive. Moreover, social turmoil and government corruption of the Marcos years prompted most American timber firms to withdraw from the Philippines, including International Paper. 132
In the 1970s International Paper owned 40 percent of PICOP; by 1980 International Paper had cut back its participation in PICOP to 10 percent. 133
PICOP began incurring heavy annual losses, and in 1980 it began turning to the government for major subsidies, in effect becoming a semipublic corporation.
By the 1980s direct U.S. investment in the Philippine timber economy was minimal. The major American connection with deforestation in the islands in recent years has been indirect. America has supplied a steady market for forest products. Hardwoods harvested by Japanese firms in Mindanao and elsewhere are processed into plywood, sawnwood, and veneer in South Korea, Taiwan, or Singapore, and then sold in Japan and the United States.
The Philippines today is probably the most ecologically degraded large country in the tropics. During the colonial era American resource managers in the Philippines developed a greater degree of actual control over the forests than they did in any Latin American country (although it was perhaps weaker than the control exercised in the more authoritarian European colonial systems). Paradoxically, the control American foresters had may have been the worst possible degree of power over Nature for the fate of the living ecosystems of the archipelago.
The Timber Economy in Tropical America after 1945
Latin America experienced a similar postwar acceleration in the timber industry, although it was slower and more tentative than the postwar growth in the Philippine Islands. Slower growth was a reflection of the region's corporate technology, forestry administration, and government support for forest exploitation, which was less developed there than it was in the Philippines. Put another way, international market demand was not as interested in Latin America's forest resources.
There were two dimensions to the changes in forest exploitation and management that occurred after the war in Latin America: breakthroughs in processing technologies and multinational corporate systems, and the belated development of professional forestry. Biology and policy were combined in an attempt to meet local people's needs as well as profit from distant markets. Surprisingly - a shred of hope for the forest's biological survival - there were some indications that a forestry system designed to meet the needs of local populations might also encourage a more biologically diverse approach to silviculture, one that might even blend modern science with traditional knowledge.
The demand for forest resources generated by the international market for industrial products grew inexorably. The market was seductive: it promised ever-rising profits, and it was backed by an ideology of socioeconomic development that had not yet learned to recognize that the planet's natural resources had limits. None of this was uniquely American, for the world of modern timber corporations and the world of the forestry profession shared the unrestrained optimism of those years.
Although World War II was not fought on New World soil, the natural resources of all the Americas were mobilized for the war effort; nearly the entire planet was drawn into the vortex. Agriculture was accelerated to the maximum extent possible given the limited civilian work force. Many forests both temperate and tropical were cleared for temporary food production, but by 1945 they had been abandoned, leaving diminished soil and damaged vegetation. 134
The story was similar for the production of lumber. All combatant nations drew on available timber resources for materiel. The American military sponsored a search in tropical woodlands for strategic timber species such as exceptionally light balsa, which was used for airplane parts, and mahogany, which was transformed into boats and gliders. 135
The number of tropical species used in northern markets increased, adding another element to the complex ecological legacy of global warfare.
Probably most fundamental for the long term, World War II brought further acceleration of technological scale. Between 1943 and 1945 three U.S. firms—Ichabod Williams from New York, Freiberg Mahogany of Cincinnati and New Orleans, and Weis Fricker of New Orleans—introduced trucks and other mechanized equipment for hauling timber in the Guatemalan Petén and in British Honduras. Together the three Yankee firms hauled out fifty million board feet of hardwood timber between 1943 and 1948. In 1948 the border between Guatemala and British Honduras was closed—politics once again determined the loggers' fortunes. 136
This was a clear example of how urgent wartime priorities, and their associated profits, increased corporate capability to extract natural resources in peacetime.
As the war neared its conclusion in 1945, Allied planners knew that Europe and East Asia faced a monumental task of rebuilding that would continue to place heavy demands on the planet's natural resources. Northern Europe's conifer forests could not provide for all of Europe's timber needs, and the Soviet Union, home of the world's greatest conifer forests, was crippled. Canada and the United States had only a limited capacity to expand their harvest of yellow pine, Douglas fir, and other conifers. High consumption levels in the United States were also driving the timber cutting.
In 1949 Marcel Leloup, director of the Division of Forestry and Forest Products of the FAO, discussed the critical international shortage of forest products and cited the market supported by consumers in North America: "The per capita consumption of saw timber is one cubic metre, five times greater than in Europe. The region uses 65 percent of the total world consumption of pulp, although the population is only 8 percent of that of the world." South America, where consumption was very low and the timber industry was underdeveloped, had the largest reserve of unexploited forest.
The United States still imported far more timber from the Philippines than from Latin America. 137
The entire U.S. market for tropical hardwoods was modest from the Yankee perspective: tropical species were less than 1 percent of U.S. hardwood consumption. American timber imports from Latin America rose from 974,000 cubic feet in 1948 to 1,291,000 cubic feet in 1956, only a gradual increase. 138
But, just as in earlier years, the U.S. demand for specialty hardwoods was very significant for the tropical exporters themselves and the particular tracts that they high-graded. 139
The trade in softwood species was more complex. Faster growing softwoods include pine and many species native to the biologically complex rainforest. Softwoods are valued primarily for inexpensive building lumber and as the major source of paper pulp. The paper industry gradually learned how to use more softwood species for the production of pulp, and as it did, it found clear-cutting of the rainforest to be increasingly valuable. Planners turned their eyes to the tropical horizon and found a major potential source of paper pulp in the pine forests of southern South America.
The era of massive tropical timber exports was only beginning in South America in the late 1940s. In striking contrast to the Philippine timber economy, Latin American timber production and export expanded only slowly until the 1960s, when rapid industrialization and economic expansion began. Latin America continued as a small exporter of hardwood logs and coniferous sawnwood. Even then, two-thirds of the trade in timber products was from one Latin American country to another. One major exception was the European market for Paraná pine.
The country with the most accessible reserves of marketable timber was Brazil, whose southern states in the temperate zone well beyond Amazonia's rainforest had great stands of Paraná pine, or Araucaria. This species, which was not a true pine, had evolved only in the far southern lands that in geologically remote times had been linked to Australia, not the tropics. The harvest of Paraná pine was a great windfall for Brazil's export economy, but by the late 1950s Brazil had lost most of its Araucaria forest ecosystem. This devastation occurred at least two decades before the more massive onslaught on the Amazon rainforest began in earnest. 140
There was obviously major potential for increased timber production throughout the forest region of Latin America, but there were many hindrances to the expansion of the industry as well. Old mahogany firms, both American and European, continued to provide specialty hardwoods. They faced familiar difficulties in dealing with local authorities, however, for through the 1950s tropical timber management remained in its infancy, and governments continued in their old bureaucratically irregular ways. An FAO study in 1959 concluded that although Latin America had ample resources, "the relative unattractiveness of investment in an industry which may not immediately yield great profits" had resulted in a severe shortage of development capital. 141
The forest products industry in North America began to respond to this opportunity. Major northern timber corporations had accumulated the scale of investment capital and the technical and managerial capacity needed to begin risking major investments in the tropics. They also had achieved greater "efficiency," extracting a wider range of forest species and processing a higher percentage of each tree. Because Yankee companies were able to use more of the harvested trees, they could out-compete local operators. Local firms exported only the best logs, wasting most of the rest of the cut. Even then, their production was by no means negligible: in 1950 seventy-three local sawmills together produced 48.6 million board feet annually for use within Guatemala. Such inefficient utilization of timber harvests could benefit no one.
Waste on such a scale was intolerable to the generation of foresters working in the Americas in the 1950s. Among them were Leslie Holdridge and his colleagues, who were the most experienced American experts in Central America at the time.
They were intent on increasing the efficiency of lumber operations:
Only a small part of the potential productivity of the land is being utilized by the present wood-working industries of the country. Increased use depends on many factors, such as the improvement of transportation facilities, management of forest lands to reduce loss from fire, control of utilization practices that destroy the productive capacity of the forests, the establishment of more efficient manufacturing methods, and the development of marketing organizations to promote the sale of manufactured products. 142
They urged the mill owners to build modern sawmills that were designed to make fuller use of the harvested trees than hand axes and saws could. They also promoted the manufacture of plywood and veneer, made possible by sophisticated new machinery, which would not only raise efficiency but also increase the species that could be milled. In the years that followed, their more professional approach was adopted very slowly by the logging industry.
Politics continued to make systematic forest utilization a difficult science to practice. In the mahogany belt of the Petén, the Guatemalan government was still unstable, and efforts to develop the country's mahogany industry on a more orderly basis broke down in 1956. As Bruce Lamb, the leading authority on mahogany, explained years later, this was
due to intrigue over how to measure the logs. The Guatemalan Forest Service set a flagrantly inflated basic stumpage price. The Robinson Lumber Co. [based in New Orleans] tried to offset this by defining a log measuring system that Guatemala could not accept. The survey effort for Petén and the legislation authorizing industrial units went down the tubes. And Guatemala went back to the old chaotic system of giving its mahogany timber away for the largest pay-off. Whose fault? I hesitate to say. 143
A similar condition prevailed in the pine belt of eastern Nicaragua, where Somoza ruled largely for the benefit of his family and friends. Lamb commented that the Nicaraguan Longleaf Pine Company, controlled by Robinson Lumber Company, "liquidated a lot of pine timber without making any effort to establish or protect natural growing stock to replace what they had cut. They just paid off Somoza. Maybe that was all that was practical." 144
At the other end of the spectrum were the small local loggers, who provided for local needs using lower quality woods. In the gradual economic expansion of the 1950s they increased in number, always in the shadow of the larger export firms. Reasonably good information is available from Honduras, where the largest pine woodlands in Central America were found. In the early 1960s there were some 111 small mills functioning in the country, producing 575,000 cubic meters of timber yearly. A few of them were able to participate in the export trade, exporting one-third of their production, mostly mahogany and cedar, to markets in Europe. The rest milled pine as construction lumber for local and domestic markets. Their work was very inefficient and technically primitive; labor productivity was very low and a high percentage of each log was wasted. 145
Throughout Central America small Yankee expatriate firms competed with the local sawmill operators. Like the individual Americans who had migrated to warmer climates for small-scale farming or trade, their numbers and cumulative impact are difficult to trace. Gill did not overlook them, though. Toward the end of his long career, he described them with fervor:
Ever since forestry graduates first emerged from our colleges, men have been going out to work for foreign powers or private companies, or to teach or, precariously, to start enterprises of their own. Outgrowth of conditions where not only their work but life itself was often a gamble, the stories of these men are among the most stirring sagas in American forestry.. ..They left behind something that has come to be recognized as inherent in the American forestry tradition- a willingness to try anything once, and a positive genius for dealing with the unexpected. 146
Gill could not resist the indulgence of praising this national myth: that the dynamic, resourceful, courageous Yankee had introduced a new and valuable quality into the saga of resource exploitation in the tropics.
Growth of Softwood Markets
The rapidly expanding northern consumer markets of the postwar boom years included an insatiable demand for brown kraft paper for packaging. Most of the pulp for this product was supplied by the boreal zone coniferous forests of Canada, Scandinavia, and Finland. Similarly, but on a far smaller scale, the new affluent urban middle class in Latin America demanded packaging. By the 1950s there was a severe and increasing shortage of paper products in Latin America. It was filled by imports from the north, since the domestic industry was not yet technologically modernized to meet the expanding demand. A major market was beckoning to American timber products corporations.
The modern pulp industry had emerged in the late nineteenth century to meet the expanding market for paper and packing materials. It developed especially in the northern European conifer zone. Until the 1960s, when major tropical sources came on line, the northern boreal coniferous forests of Europe and North America provided nearly the whole global supply of paper pulp. In 1918 production was 10 million tons of pulp; by the late 1930s it had risen to 25 million tons. Eighty percent came from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany, the United States, and Canada. This accounted for 7 percent of the global wood harvest, and most was processed from trees that were not good for lumber.
Because pulpwood has a greater value-to-weight ratio than milled lumber, the FAO thought that increased pulp production would help finance better forest management, particularly in Latin America, and might reduce the harvest of primary forest. In 1946 the agency recommended an increase in pulp production in all countries, partly to eliminate imports into South America and Africa. 147
By 1947 pulp production had recovered to prewar levels, and it almost doubled between 1946 and 1955, from 25.7 million to 49.7 million tons, an annual growth of over 7 percent. As one FAO expert observed, "Expansion and modernization plans were continually being announced from all regions of the world." 148
The consumption of wood pulp in Latin America increased similarly, far outstripping production in the region. Latin American economies had to purchase more than half of their wood pulp with precious foreign exchange. In 1937 the region produced 27,000 tons and consumed 233,000 of pulp. In 1948 it produced 170,000 tons but consumed 345,000 tons. The consumption gap continued to widen: in 1955 the region produced 320,000 tons and imported 840,000. 149
U.S. pulp and paper operations arrived in Latin America in the 1950s, effecting a dramatic change in the region's wood products industry. American paper companies moved into the region in part to provide packaging for the American fruit companies, which had begun packing their Cavendish bananas in cardboard boxes. Thus, the exploitation of tropical forests by American corporations in many instances began as an adjunct to large-scale export crop operations.
The paper companies preferred not to become embroiled in the dismal struggles over ownership or enmeshed in the management of disputed local lands. The long-term trend was to stay at a distance from local circumstances. By 1981 only seven U.S. timber firms were operating in all of Central America- in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, and Honduras- and none was using local supplies. The two companies that continued to operate in Honduras were Gould Paper and Robinson Lumber. 150
As a result the actual work of forest exploitation throughout Latin America remained largely in the hands of local firms, especially in the pinelands.
Some local firms formed associations with U.S. partners, who had been recruited for the investment capital and consumer markets that they could provide. The most notable example of what could be accomplished when a local firm collaborated with a North American timber corporation was Carton de Colombia, which became Latin America's most modern integrated paper and paperboard producer. The company was founded in 1944 by the Container Corporation of America in a fifty-fifty partnership with Colombian investors. The company's goal was to replace imported paper pulp with local supplies and to make products primarily for domestic markets. It was the first company to enter Colombia that had resources adequate to the challenge of opening a major tract of the country's primary rainforest.
In 1952, logging and sawmill equipment that was becoming obsolete in the United States was shipped by Container Corporation to Colombia, where it constituted the industry's most advanced technology in northern South America. Several years of cooperative planning with the Colombian government resulted in 1960 in the creation of Pulpapel, a joint venture between Container Corporation and the government, to launch large-scale clear-cutting and replanting in the forests of the Magdalena River valley. Its packaging papers soon met almost all of Colombia's domestic need, including cartons for the banana export industry. 151
A similar story emerged in the pine region of southern Brazil in the 1950s, when two American multinational corporations moved into the region to join the development of the pulp and paper industry. In 1953 Westvaco Corporation purchased Rigesa Celulose from an old local family in Valinhos outside São Paulo. The new owners of Rigesa built an automated paper mill to produce cardboard boxes and brown paper bags for domestic Brazilian markets, especially that of booming São Paulo. Quickly expanding beyond their local supplies, they surveyed the pine region farther south, in Santa Catarina, for sources of pulpwood. There they purchased land that had been stripped of its stands of native Paraná pine early in the century. Rigesa replanted the pine, and in the years before the new trees were mature enough to harvest, the company relied on recycled corrugated boxes, waste wood from local sawmills, and miscellaneous fellings on private lands in the region. 152
Five years after Westvaco pioneered Yankee paper technology in southern Brazil, another Louisiana firm, Olin Mathieson, purchased a pulp mill from the Itajai Pulp and Paper Company in Santa Catarina state. By the end of the 1960s the new Olinkraft facility was producing 160 tons of kraft paper, newsprint, and specialty papers daily. From its headquarters in São Paulo, Olinkraft also purchased or leased 110,000 acres of old Paraná pineland, which it replanted, some with the original species, but most with loblolly pine (also called southern pine), whose silviculture the company understood from its main operation in the United States. 153
Reforestation and modernized production of paper production went hand in hand. It is too soon to tell whether local soils can sustain the venture and whether the local poor will be displaced, but by the 1970s, waste wood and paper were being used more efficiently, and employment in the mills had tripled in little more than a decade.
Whether they employed a rusty rural band saw or a modern corporate sawmill, by the 1940s loggers were turning the forests of Latin America into timber products at an accelerating speed. Very little land had been reforested. Efforts at sustained-yield management of hardwoods and softwoods had only just begun, as had integrated wood products processing. These circumstances, plus those of new market openings and rising costs, demanded more highly trained and technically competent forest managers.
Foresters as Development Planners
American roles in the trend of forest control and exploitation were complex and paradoxical. The U.S. presence had evolved in colonial and neocolonial settings and matured with the American rise to domination in world trade and politics. The forestry industry embraced the scientific orientation toward the twin demigods of growth and modernization, using them as touchstones as they developed forestry policy in Latin America and the Philippines. In its belief in mechanization, expansion, and greater efficiency, forestry policy reflected its practitioners' experience in the temperate zone of North America.
Foresters had to work within the institutional and social frameworks of tropical countries. After 1945, as tropical governments became more assertive, foresters tried to channel national development policies toward sustainable timber management, integrated with agriculture. All too often political, economic, and demographic pressures were far stronger than foresters' ecological knowledge of the tropics. Too often foresters gambled with a stake that many now regret: the tools of timber extraction raced far ahead of the wisdom to use them with restraint.
Moreover, most foresters understood little about rural tropical populations and their traditional ways of living with forests. Whether implicit or explicit, the social policy embraced by professional foresters was only rudimentary. It began with a genuine concern to provide for local consumption needs, primarily in terms of meeting construction timber requirements. Foresters believed that settled farming was the best method of sustenance agriculture. Until at least the 1960s foresters were nearly unanimous in condemning all forms of shifting agriculture, not distinguishing between ancient tribal agriculture and the damage caused by dispossessed lowland peasants as they were forced into mountain forest watersheds.
Most foresters did not trace the dilemma of the dispossessed peasants back to its source, in the politics of plantation monocropping. Only an occasional forester ever pointed to the system of land tenure, in which a few powerful people controlled most of the land, as a primary impetus of forest degradation. Nor was there much mention at all of this class hierarchy as a major source of high birth rates among the rural poor, the population pressure which foresters and wildlife conservationists routinely agreed was becoming a major pressure on forest resources.
Foresters were trained to study tree communities, not human communities. Here, as in all other areas of tropical resource utilization, specialization and professionalization, although necessary, promoted a deadly separation of technical from social and political understanding. Thus they unwittingly contributed to accelerating the transformation of tropical Nature into commodity patterns, biologically simplified, ecologically unstable, socially polarized, and culturally degraded.
That was not the whole story. By the 1950s a few tropical foresters with the requisite combination of biological knowledge plus social awareness and imagination began warning that the forest resources of the tropics could not be indefinitely preserved unless the whole range of social factors could be integrated in management strategies. These foresighted individuals understood local subsistence as well as tree growth and distant markets, but they had little political voice until a groundswell of change in political consciousness began to appear internationally in the late 1960s.
The United Nations was very important for the development of the forest industry, and it also became a major pathway for U.S. influence. The Food and Agriculture Organization was founded in 1945 especially to provide food for a war-worn world. At the urging of a small group that included Pinchot's protégés in the United States, forestry was added to its portfolio. In 1943 President Roosevelt convened a conference on international food, which was midwife to the FAO. He was convinced to include forestry in the agriculture agency's agenda by Gill, Lyle Watts, director of the U.S. Forest Service, Henry Graves, long-time dean of the Yale school of forestry and a former director of the U.S. Forest Service, plus members of the national Lumber Manufacturers' Association. 154
In March 1944 a Technical Committee on Forestry and Primary Forest Products was established to plan that aspect of FAO. Graves was appointed its chair, and among the eleven other members were Watts, Gill, and Walter Lowdermilk, whose work on global soil erosion had pioneered soil conservation efforts in the pre-war years. An inner circle of American internationalists was coalescing, together with their European counterparts. Their collective view of the role of forests in the postwar global development agenda would be very weighty.
The FAO's forestry division was born with a sense of urgency to use all forest products to maximum efficiency. Little additional lumber supply was available from the U.S. and Canada in the late 1940s. North American foresters were acutely aware that tropical regions could play a greatly expanded role in international trade and thus economic development, and that tropical countries could not afford to leave their forest resources "underutilized" while draining foreign exchange to pay for imports.
FAO foresters saw vast areas of badly managed and severely depleted forest stocks, including regions of the United States. Equally important, they looked at the tropical forest zone as one of the greatest untapped resources for humanity's future use. In 1949 Egon Glesinger, a Polish forest economist who migrated to the United States during the war, and who was the second-ranking officer in the FAO Forestry Division, published a widely read global survey of forests and the timber industry, The Coming Age of W ood, in which he declared that "Earth's last frontier has by no means disappeared; 5000 million acres of virgin forest- in tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa and Latin America, and in Alaska, Manchuria, and Siberia- constitute the largest and most exciting frontier left to man." 155
The fledgling state of professional forestry in Latin America was indicated by the fact that when the FAO's forestry division was founded, Gill and Watts, not Ladinos, represented the region. 156
FAO launched its forestry consultations in Latin America in 1948 at a conference in Teresópolis, Brazil, on the edge of the Serra dos Orgãos National Park north of Rio de Janeiro. Participants considered forestlands to be a dimension of a nation's productivity, but that did not preclude discussion of conservation under the rubric of sustainable production. Participants agreed that many forests were badly depleted and poorly managed, with a resulting "havoc" of erosion; they also agreed that other vast areas of forest were virtually untouched and should be brought under active management for socioeconomic development. As one conference resolution put it, "Latin-American forests should be utilized in accordance with modern scientific and mechanical concepts, and in such ways as to raise the standards of living of local populations to a level compatible with human dignity." 157
The emphasis of the conference was entirely on productive utilization of resources. The idea that some natural regions should be preserved- and protected- in their original character was still just beyond the ideological horizon. The Teresópolis resolutions asked for "rational expansion of forest products industries drawing on the long accumulated wealth of virgin forest tracts, so as to take the utmost advantage of present export possibilities," and "increased efficiency at all stages of production." 158
There were scattered references to preserving forest cover so as to protect watersheds: "[I]n order to avoid wasteful cutting of forests, particularly protection forests around centers of population and in mountainous regions, countries of Latin America should endeavor to regulate the cutting of wood for fuel and charcoal, basing this cutting on principles of sound forest management." This principle was linked primarily to the region's growing demand for industrial energy supplies. In a recommendation that would begin to be challenged as one-sided a decade later, the conference encouraged "a greater use of hydroelectric power, wherever this is economically justified."
Acceleration of timber production was also necessary to reduce Latin America's dependence on imported wood products and to expand the region's ability to export. Participants repeatedly emphasized that timber products should be exported only after processing, so that producer countries could capture the values of employment and accelerated technology, thereby using their natural resources to begin to emerge from dependency on the industrialized economies. To accomplish this governments would have to encourage the flow of up-to-date technology from industrialized countries, "permitting a logical exchange of trade and a mutual betterment in countries' standards of living," a process that could be backed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The seeds of another generation's controversies were being unwittingly planted.
American foresters also preached the gospel of sustained-yield forestry. This philosophy was succinctly summarized by Hardy Shirley at the Inter-American Conference on Conservation of Renewable Natural Resources, held in Denver in 1948, the same year as the Teresópolis conference. Shirley, the assistant dean of forestry at Syracuse University, was another American forester who was gaining influence in inter-American forest resource development. In a talk titled "Obstacles to Sustained-Yield Forestry," he asserted that
abundant resources, together with an energetic populace skilled in exploiting natural wealth, afford nations strength, prestige, and high living standards. But nations rich in resources, just as some wealthy individuals, may use up their heritage with little thought for future needs. Other nations resemble the miser in having abundant resources which they use but little. Neither spendthrifts nor misers make good citizens, nor do prodigal or miserly nations make their rightful contribution to a world society. 159
Shirely condemned the wastefulness and technical crudeness of high-grading. Restating what had been the mainstream tenet of American official forestry ever since Pinchot's early years, he described the "perpetuation of a renewable resource through wise use," adapted carefully to the specific conditions at each locale.
Sustained yield of necessity varies in intensity with terrain, timber quality, and markets. It must be adjusted so that operations can be made profitable. Sustained yield, therefore, implies intensive forest use on fertile, well-developed forests near wood-using centers; it means very conservative forestry on steep mountain slopes subject to erosion; and it means rudimentary forestry on remote, inaccessible lands, [a] practice that will maintain useful forest growth. 160
Shirley was unreservedly confident that large-scale timber extraction and processing would provide the solution. He praised the major strides that had been made in the use of heavy-duty machinery, including truck-mounted sawmills. The greatest problem he saw, especially in Latin America, was the high portion of hardwoods in natural forests, when the accelerating market demand was for pulp. A more capital-intensive industry could speed the transformation of natural forests to softwood plantations on a scale that would be large enough to meet the world's demand for paper stock. The paper industry also presented a major opportunity for Latin American economies to become competitive in international markets. "Export markets should be built up. Developing the potentially very large domestic market is even more important. But good markets in themselves may be either a boon or a hindrance to sustained-yield forestry." 161
Shirley's technocratic confidence, its priorities dominated by the market for timber products, typified the stance of foresters immediately after the war. 162
He assumed that long-term material needs could be met and environmental health could be maintained by production forestry, if the scale of production was large enough. He and most of his contemporaries did not approach forests as intricate ecosystems worth preserving intact for an entire range of ecological value, transcending social value. In particular, they assumed that rainforest ecosystems were so utterly vast that their full range of species did not need defenders in international development forums.
The overall thrust of American forestry aid in Latin America was toward the rapid development of the region's varied timber resources. Virtually no one warned that the strategy had dangers. In the immediate postwar years U.S. technical assistance for forest management spread throughout Latin America, not only through FAO channels, but also through the International Cooperation Agency (the forerunner of the Agency for International Development), for which forestry aid was a major emphasis. The push for development prescribed the formulation of competent policy. 163
The pattern was set in 1946, when a team of U.S. foresters who had been sent to Chile submitted a report that became a model for subsequent U.S. assessment. 164
Chile, twice the size of California and 2,650 miles long from the deserts of its northern border with Peru to the icy south of Tierra del Fuego, had 40 million acres of forests, which constituted 22 percent of Chile's land. Most of the forest cover was in the cool, moist south. The American team reported that much of it had already been degraded to varying degrees, primarily by ill-advised clearing for agriculture. 165
In the optimistic vein that characterized the dispersion of most American development aid after the war, they reported that production could easily and sustainably be tripled in those already damaged forests. Scientific forestry could achieve a major expansion of timber exports and make an important contribution to the national economy. In sum, said the foresters, Chile's forests should be integrated into the global economy. The team urged the installation of integrated sawmill complexes to expand veneer and plywood production, which would use much of what smaller mills wasted.
The story was similar in southern Brazil. In the urgent postwar search for coniferous timber resources to rebuild Europe, Watts proposed that the FAO send a survey mission to southern Brazil, knowing that his close associate Gill would head it as FAO's representative for Latin America. In 1947 Gill and his team surveyed the Paraná pine belt. They estimated that despite years of severe overcutting. Paraná pine still covered well over 24.7 million acres. The loggers in southern Brazil were part of the most highly developed forest industry in South America. In the early decades of the century the area had been equipped with German machinery. Paraná pine had been shipped to Argentina, Uruguay, Britain, and South Africa; the United States had imported a pittance. Gill thought that these circumstances gave the timber industry a base for very rapid growth, and he believed that with the help of the FAO its efficiency could be improved in major ways. He proposed a World Bank loan for new equipment and other financing, which would constitute "an example to all nations of the role FAO is capable of assuming as an integrating factor in the world economy." 166
The natural pine forest regions of Latin America were one thing to manage, the rainforests were quite another. Their great variety of trees, most of which could not be identified by anyone except the tribal inhabitants of the forests, defeated any attempt to extract the value of more than one or two timber species in any given area. Throughout this period foresters had little success in establishing managed forests for sustained timber production in the wet lowland zones of Latin America. Research on moist forests had just begun, but foresters were optimistic about the possibilities for the "rational exploitation" of the rainforest along "scientific" lines. 167
The images of rationality and science were compelling when juxtaposed with their converse: the wastefulness, inefficiency, political corruption, and administrative weakness that existed throughout the region. Unfortunately, tropical foresters had simply not accumulated enough experience to anticipate the silvicultural complexities and social pressures that continue to make their goal so elusive. The confidence of the generation made many advances in tropical resource management possible, but it also delayed full confrontation with the social issues of the forests.
Afforestation strategies were also an element of the FAO's vision of development. The American team that visited Chile in 1946 reported that replanting of logged forests in Chile had already reached 353,210 acres, of which Insignis pine accounted for 58 percent and eucalyptus 31 percent. This became the dominant pattern of reforestation following the war: replanting would concentrate on one or two fast-growing species that would provide paper pulp. These efforts did not establish a true forest with varied species of flora and fauna, but a one-species crop: any species that was plantation-grown displaced entire natural forests. Both natural forests and (more extensively in Chile) previously degraded lands were being replaced by softwood monocultures. The trend began to accelerate rapidly in the 1950s, and became dominant throughout the tropics in the 1960s.
Experiments with tree replanting began in the early 1900s, when U.S. timber firms in Central America experimented with planting several commercially valuable hardwood species. Through the 1930s most experiments were initiated by private U.S. companies. Until the burgeoning post-1945 demand for construction timber and paper pulp focused attention on softwoods, most experiments tested various species of hardwoods and softwoods. By the 1950s, only a tiny number of tropical species- slowly growing hardwoods or fast growing softwoods- were known to silviculturists as a species that would grow well in one-species plantations and that were also in high demand on international markets.
The earliest efforts at reforestation may have been made by the Emery Company on its Nicaraguan concession. To comply with a clause in Nicaragua's forestry law (one that was usually ignored), Emery established experimental mahogany stands. The abrupt end of its concession in 1909 ended that effort. 168
In the late 1920s the United Fruit Company's research center at Tela, Honduras, took up experiments with hardwood reforestation under its first director, Wilson Popenoe. Popenoe made similar sustained efforts at Antigua, Guatemala. By 1960 mature cypress plantations were established on various sites. 169
In the 1950s United Fruit Company also put over 2,000 acres in teak, which had been experimentally introduced from Southeast Asia early in the century. Teak did exceptionally well on its banana plantations near Quepos and Golfito, which were on Costa Rica's Pacific coast, where the seasonally dry climate was similar to that of teak's homeland. The company also experimented with more than twenty other species, including hardwoods from central Africa and India. 170
United's experiments were the work of its director of tropical research, Vining Dunlap, who like his mentor and predecessor Popenoe took a biologist's interest in tree plantations that went beyond immediate corporate calculations of profitable trade possibilities. In 1950 Dunlap hosted the American forester Hugh Raup on a tour of United's reforestation efforts in Honduras. The work was centered at Tela and especially nearby Lancetilla, where an old natural forest had been long protected because it was the watershed for the town of Tela. Raup praised Dunlap's high-class research team, who had fifty-four species of seedlings under trial, led by mahogany, primavera, cedar, and teak-6,300 acres of teak. 171
Raup reported that United Fruit had also undertaken the replanting of pine in the hills of Honduras, mostly on old pasture that had been repeatedly burned. The company planted 3,300 acres of pine in 1950 and planned 12,000 more for the following year to prevent fire and grazing. Raup concluded that the project was very successful and had incurred only low costs, but he suggested that the company experiment more with mixed-species plantations, since little was known about which combinations flourished well together. 172
In these years managed forest or reforestation projects relied on authoritarian controls over peasant subsistence. Dunlap's strategy was to exclude local livestock, prevent fires, and allow natural pine regeneration, allowing reversion toward a more natural forest. 173
When left to itself, the pine forest reseeded very well indeed, and Dunlap was encouraged. In a crucial sense, however, Dunlap's experiment was of limited significance. Pinelands usually supported a heavy peasant population, in contrast to most moist forests. Dunlap could decree an end to grazing local animals on United's land, but on government forestlands the problem was as much social as silvicultural. The reforestation of the southern pinelands in the United States had required a massive public education campaign about the destructive impact of annual fires; a similar effort in Honduras would have been much more difficult. Yet Dunlap did make an important point: the natural biotic processes of recovery could work effectively if the social issues could be successfully addressed.
Working with the sugar company's researchers, in 1960 a team of forest biologists from the research center in Puerto Rico carried out a survey of reforestation work throughout Latin America. The team, headed by Lamb, found a wide variety of multispecies trials that supported efforts to repair or enrich existing forests. In some, foresters and agronomists were encouraging natural regeneration of selectively felled hardwoods like mahogany and Spanish cedar, although little was yet known about the soil and light conditions needed by the hardwood seedlings. The report highlighted the work of the United Fruit Company, whose work it termed "probably the most extensive experimental reforestation in Central America." 174
Investors at company headquarters in Boston, where a rapid return on capital was the standard of value, did not share the interests of the agronomists and foresters. In the 1950s the policy makers for United Fruit ordered the forestry work at Tela to be gradually phased out. Once again corporate priorities- in research as well as marketing-were narrow and shortsighted. 175
More ominous for the integrity of the rainforest, the corporations began to replace the natural rainforest with pine and eucalyptus tree farms, a trend spurred by rising demand in northern markets for paper products. In the Colombian rainforest in the 1950s Carton de Colombia and its American partner, the Container Corporation of America, were attempting to reduce imports of long-fiber pulp for the local paper industry. Other companies in several countries followed suit, planting several species of pine or eucalyptus, on various soils and various elevations and rainfall patterns. 176
In Honduras, U.S. consultants aided the expansion and intensification of local pine timber industries. Honduran pine lumber had been shipped from the Miskito coast to timber-starved islands of the Caribbean since the end of the nineteenth century, but large-scale logging operations were constantly threatened by the political turmoil that centered on a long-lasting border dispute between Nicaragua and Honduras. By the mid-1950s other operations had been tried and abandoned, as geographer James Parsons reported: "At present there is no forester, no fire prevention crew, and no inventory of the merchantable timber still standing on this low-lying Caribbean coast of Nicaragua and Honduras. ...Pine lumbering will soon drop off to insignificant levels." Most of the mature, high quality trees were gone and nothing was being done to foster a new generation. 177
Surprisingly though, by 1960 coniferous lumber was third in value among the exports of Honduras, behind bananas and coffee. Exports to the Caribbean, which were largely controlled by local firms, were responsible. In addition, by 1960 Honduras was shipping nearly 200,000 cubic meters of mahogany and cedar annually to markets in Europe. 178
But when the International Cooperation Agency sent the forester Virgil Heath to assess the state of Honduran pinelands in 1964, he was aghast at how primitive the country's timber industry still was: "Good forest management practices are completely lacking. Timber sales are made by long term concessions, but evidently once they are made, there is no administration of the sale. Proper silviculture practices are completely ignored. The poor logging practices contribute to an unbelievable waste of timber." 179
The degraded stands of single species had become highly vulnerable to disease, weakened by the pressure of logging, over-tapping for resin, and annual fires, as Heath reported: "Repeated burning is a way of life in Honduras.. . .Indiscriminate burning is done to kill insects, clear land in a shifting agriculture economy, and to provide grass for cattle. . . .The present beetle epidemic [is] due to an over aged stand of timber continually weakened by fire." 180
In the early 1960s the Honduran pine forests were attacked by a massive infestation of beetles, which killed many thousands of trees. Heath recommended cleanup fellings of old and damaged trees, plus strict regulation of villagers' access to fodder grasses that grew beneath the pines in the open woodlands.
Heath's recommendations made good silvicultural sense, but they provided little hint as to how the Hondurans might go about reconciling local land use with export timber production. Dunlap had been able to remove local users from United Fruit's private lands, but Heath was studying government lands where peasants exercised traditional rights. The next move had to come from Tegucigalpa, but the Honduran government had little effective presence in the remote countryside. 181
The insatiable demand for profits on international markets continued to grow, and the trend inevitably forced forest managers and development planners to raise fundamental questions. Was the future of tropical forests to be dominated by one-species tree farms? What role should be given to tropical silviculture? For whose benefit should the forests be managed?
Toward Sustaining Biodiverse Rainforests
The term sustained yield meant many things to many people, and the debate over sustained yield of tropical forests was highly contentious. The ecologist's meaning-preservation of rainforest ecosystems in all their diversity-was not even a common goal in the first two postwar decades. Crucial research on ecosystem management, such as watershed protection or the social aspects of forest protection, had barely begun. The fledgling research institutes struggled with miniscule budgets, and rainforest ecosystems were so exquisitely complex that it would take years of additional work by forest biologists and ecologists just to develop an adequate taxonomy, or even to standardize terminology for the research, to say nothing of understanding how entire interlocking life systems function.
Until the late 1960s few people, even the best informed, felt any sense of urgency about the threat to the diversity of life in the wet tropics. The natural forest regions of the tropical Americas were still vast, and nearly all development specialists except for a few foresters saw them as the adversary to be conquered. In the greatest rainforest of all, the Amazon basin, extensive permanent field agriculture and large-scale logging were launched only in the late 1950s. Even in Central America, where U.S. fruit growers had made heavy inroads into the forests for commercial cropping and transport infrastructure, the forest zone beyond the plantations was still nearly impenetrable in the 1950s. Leslie Holdridge, who was emerging as the preeminent tropical forest ecologist of his generation, first explored the Sarapiquí rainforest region between Costa Rica's central valley and the banana zone in the early 1950s. He found no paved roads; transport was possible only by small boats along a few rivers. Only a few peasant huts and clearings along the streams interrupted the majestic forest. 182
Holdridge often stated later that his generation of foresters was too sanguine in their expectation that the forests of Latin America could easily be made to produce abundantly forever. His younger colleague Gerardo Budowski put it more bluntly in 1970, when he looked back on his early years around 1950:
As a University student in Caracas, I believed, like everyone else-in fact I may even say today that I was "obsessed" - that the greatest potential of my country was in those vast areas of "virgin forests" mapped in solid green that were sparsely settled and just awaited the drive of ambitious government planners to be opened to civilization. 183
As a young forest biologist in 1940, Holdridge had sketched what was then a novel approach to sustainable rainforest management: he argued that sustainability would be possible only if the fixation on single-species plantations were replaced by locally varied systems of mixed farming and agriculture, taken in part from traditional subsistence farming. In characterizing the vast zone that lay between fertile alluvial lowlands and high mountain slopes, he repeated conventional wisdom:
This is the zone where land-use evils first come into focus, where the farmers recall the "good old days" of fertile soils, the soil expert frowns at the soil erosion in progress, the forester points out the felling of the forests as the source of the evil, and most all unite in pointing at the system of "conuco" or shifting agriculture as a prime evil which must be abolished at all costs. 184
A change of far-reaching social and biological priorities required many steps, however. As an alternative approach Holdridge presented the case for what later came to be known as agroforestry or agroecology. He argued that intercultivation, already practiced in several areas, was "the most practical and least expensive of methods for establishing forest plantations."
Holdridge was supported by his senior officer, Arthur Bevan, director of the research station at Río Piedras, who argued in a 1943 article that prevailing approaches to tropical forestry neglected local needs, and thus they would never be sustainable. Despite the denudation of hill forests by peasants struggling for survival throughout the region, "no serious consideration has yet been given to short rotation quick-growing forest crops suitable for fuel, stakes, posts, and other materials needed for local consumption and for the improvement of the standard of living of the peasant or peon class which makes up by far the greater portion of the population of these countries." 185
Both European and American agronomists and foresters in the Caribbean Basin had begun to introduce the Burmese system of taungya in the 1930s, which British foresters in India had been adapting for many years. In the taungya system, which evolved in teak forests, local tribals or peasants planted the commercial species, and for the first two to four years they planted their food crops between the rows of teak seedlings. When the tree canopy was dense enough to suppress the understory crops, the workers moved to a new location and repeated the process. Until the 1960s there were only a tiny number of forestry plantations of this sort in the tropical Americas. 186
Challenging the prevailing priorities of his profession, Bevan insisted that the needs of local people must be met first, and only after that should the international markets be considered.
The work of the experiment station at Río Piedras was key in the development of forest management strategies that could protect biological diversity. In close contact with its European counterparts around the Caribbean region, the institute began research on sustained-yield management of commercially accepted species. 187
In Puerto Rico itself the foresters' strategy was to work within the biological structure of existing forests, in part because local markets had always used a wide variety of wood species on a small scale for housing construction, furniture, wagons, boats, and many other purposes.
In 1947, Frank Wadsworth, the future director of the experiment station, surveyed the impact of silviculture in the region. He stressed the need to maintain forests until they could be studied, pointing out that in the rainforest "perpetual cover, mixed composition, and all-aged structure" should be protected. Wadsworth insisted that a complete understanding of the region, including "knowledge of local environments, forest structure and composition, qualities of tree species, and social and economic factors" was essential for silviculture. 188
He charged foresters to encourage the use of all species with any market demand for local and urban use-the article went on to enumerate ninety-eight species.
Wadsworth knew enough about rainforest silviculture to understand its difficulties. He pointed out that there were many problems in this approach: each species was widely dispersed through the forest; it was difficult to supervise cutting; the regeneration of fast-growing light-loving species was rarely successful in shady areas. 189
Moreover, the practice of silviculture was a process of mediation: "Silvicultural practice is a compromise between the biological requirements for optimum future wood production and the economic requirements of the logging industry. This compromise must provide a present yield as well as an improved resources for the future." 190
He could already see the trend toward clear-cutting and one-species plantations, but that would occur with the establishment of large-scale industrial operations and the growth of international markets, especially for pulp and paper products.
An active debate began in the late 1940s in international forestry circles over the relation between tropical forestry and local subsistence. Those who took the issue most seriously saw great virtue in the oldest, least highly monetized and modernized farming systems, those of Indian shifting agriculturists. The debate was inhibited in the 1950s by the rush to modernize the timber export industry.
Forest biologists who were challenging the prevailing assumptions of their profession had some important support from other conservationists from the late 1940s on. In 1947 William Vogt wrote an article in Unasylva, the FAO's forestry journal, which in both tone and substance was startlingly at odds with most of what was being written by foresters at the time. Titled "Latin-American Timber, Ltd.," a deliberately indignant pun, Vogt's article began, "Every sector of the human race enjoys-or suffers from-its own superstitions. There are few superstitions as deeply grounded as the belief that Latin America is rich in timber resources." 191
Vogt, who knew the region from Mexico to northern South America as well as any North American of his time, granted that "the region between the Rio Grande and Cape Horn includes one of the greatest remaining extensions of forest," but he reminded his readers that most of that forest grew on steeply sloping lands that were highly susceptible to erosion, had nutrient-deficient soils, or suffered harsh aridity. He calculated that only about 5 percent of Latin America's soils could support intensive agriculture, and most of that was river-bottom alluvium.
Vogt argued that between twenty and forty million Latin Americans were already displaced from their lands, not because of political conflicts but because of terminal land degradation, dating back as far as the early days of the Spanish conquest. He proceeded to describe highland forests that had been stripped to serve the silver mines of colonial Mexico, the woodlands of densely populated El Salvador that had been chopped away for firewood, the highland oak forests of Costa Rica that were being degraded as the new Pan American Highway was being built, the Andean hill forests of Venezuela that had given way to agriculture under Spanish
Notes: Note 1:
A similar process in Europe had accompanied the High Middle Ages; probably the greatest loss in Western Europe's forest cover occurred during the agricultural clearances of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. See H. C. Darby, "The Medieval Clearances," in Man's Role in Changing the Face of the Earth, ed. William L. Thomas (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956), 183-216, for an authoritative summary. This process extended to Europe's frontiers in the nineteenth century, although this time I was more chaotic and less controlled by social constraints. See Richard P. Tucker and J. F. Richards, eds., Global Deforestation in the Nineteenth Century (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1983). The process was perhaps at its most intense in the woodland regions of the United States. See Michael Williams, Americans and Their Forests: A Historical Geography (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1989); Thomas Cox et al., This Well Wooded Land: Americans and Their Forests from Colonial Times to the Present (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985).Back. Note 2:
F. W. O. Morton, "The Royal Timber in Late Colonial Bahia," Hispanic American Historical Review 58:1 (1978): 41-61.Back. Note 3:
For the trade, from the perspective of Europe, see Arthur M. Wilson, "The Logwood Trade in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries," in Essays in the History of Modern Europe, ed. Donald C. McKay (New York: Harper Brothers, 1936).Back. Note 4:
Stephen L. Caiger, British Honduras, Past and Present (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1951), 50-59.Back. Note 5:
See A. R. Gregg, British Honduras (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1968), chap. 8, for a description of the logging camps.Back. Note 6:
William Dampier, quoted in Narda Dobson, A History of Belize (Trinidad and Jamaica: Longman Caribbean, 1973), 55.Back. Note 7:
Olivier, Jamaica, The Blessed Land, 292.Back. Note 8:
Caiger, 135, 139.Back. Note 9:
Sources include William F. Payson, Mahogany: Antique and Modern (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1926).Back. Note 10:
Various sources cursorily mention the wanton clearance of mahogany for sugar in the Cuban lowlands and, after 1920, in the eastern hills. In most cases it seems that commercial marketing of the timber was either not financially feasible, because transport systems were primitive, or simply not in the sugar speculators' minds. See Gill, Tropical Forests of the Caribbean, 90-91; the competition with Honduran and British Honduran exports is mentioned by Mosher, "At Sea in the Caribbean?," 240-245; Dobson, 134; and Caiger, 141.Back. Note 11:
Walter D. Wilcox, "Among the Mahogany Forests of Cuba," National Geographic 19 (1908): 485.Back. Note 12:
Wilcox, 486.Back. Note 13:
Wilcox, 488.Back. Note 14:
John C. Callahan, The Fine Hardwood V eneer Industry in the United States: 1838-1990 (Lake Ann, Mich.: National Woodlands Publishing Company, 1990), esp. 124.Back. Note 15:
Schwartz, Forest Society, 111.Back. Note 16:
Leslie Holdridge, F. Bruce Lamb, and Harold Mason, Forests of Guatemala (privately printed, 1950), 60-61, briefly discuss the history of several Yankee firms in that area until 1930, when markets collapsed.Back. Note 17:
See import statistics in F. Bruce Lamb, Mahogany of Tropical America: Its Ecology and Management (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1966), 10-21.Back. Note 18:
Belize experienced a mahogany-felling bonanza as well. Its exports expanded from 6 million board feet in 1899 to over 16 million in 1914, with steadily rising prices. Caiger, 140.Back. Note 19:
Parsons, "The Miskito Pine Savanna of Nicaragua and Honduras," 55.Back. Note 20:
Gregg, 90.Back. Note 21:
Paul C. Standley and Samuel J. Record, The Forests and Flora of British Honduras, Botanical Series, vol. 12 (Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History, 1936), 30.Back. Note 22:
For detailed descriptions, see William M. Denevan, "The Upland Pine Forests of Nicaragua: A Study in Cultural Plant Geography," University of California Publications in Geography 12:4 (1961): 251-320; Johanneson, Savannas of Interior Honduras; and Parsons, "The Miskito Pine Savanna of Nicaragua and Honduras."Back. Note 23:
Denevan, 298.Back. Note 24:
Parsons, "The Miskito Pine Savanna of Nicaragua and Honduras," 51-52.Back. Note 25:
Its major consumer now is the Dominican Republic; Europe stands second. The following account is taken primarily from Parsons, "The Miskito Pine Savanna of Nicaragua and Honduras," 54-61; and the somewhat different detail in Karnes, Tropical Enterprise, chap. 9.Back. Note 26:
Denny, Dollars for Bullets, 61.Back. Note 27:
Denny, 78.Back. Note 28:
LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions, 64-69.Back. Note 29:
After World War II Robinson reorganized as the Nicaragua Longleaf Pine Lumber Company, or NIPCO, and constructed the region's network of permanent logging roads. Karnes, chap. 10.Back. Note 30:
James D. Nations, Tropical Moist Forest Destruction in Middle America: Current Patterns and Alternatives (Austin, Tex.: Center for Human Ecology, 1980), 20.Back. Note 31:
Frank H. Wadsworth, "The Development of the Forest Land Resources of the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico" (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1949), 113.Back. Note 32:
In a more modest parallel development in the Old Southwest centering on the lower Mississippi, cypress logging expanded and found Caribbean markets as well. John Hebron Moore, Andrew Brown and Cypress Lumbering in the Old Southwest (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1967).Back. Note 33:
Susan Flader, ed., The Great Lakes Forest: An Environmental and Social History (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983).Back. Note 34:
James E. Fickle, The New South and the "New Competition": Trade Association Development in the Southern Pine Industry (Urbana: University of Illinois Press for the Forest History Society), 1980.Back. Note 35:
A closely parallel pattern appeared in the late nineteenth century along the Pacific coast of the Americas, as Douglas fir and to a lesser extent redwood came to dominate the construction industries of Chile and Peru. Roger E. Simmons, Lumber Markets of the West and North Coasts of South America, Special Agents Series, No. 117 (Washington, D.C.: Department of Commerce, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, 1916).Back. Note 36:
Fickle, 199-200, 204.Back. Note 37:
Gill, Tropical Forests of the Caribbean, 272.Back. Note 38:
Mira Wilkins, The Making of Multinational Enterprise: American Business Abroad from 1914 to 1970 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974), 98.Back. Note 39:
Stephen Pyne, Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982).Back. Note 40:
Standley and Record, 33.Back. Note 41:
Gill, Tropical Forests of the Caribbean, 18.Back. Note 42:
Tom Gill, "America and World Forestry," in American Forestry: Six Decades of Growth, ed. Henry Clepper and Arthur B. Meyer (Washington, D.C.: Society of American Foresters, 1960), 285.Back. Note 43:
Frank H. Wadsworth, "An Approach to Silviculture in Tropical America and Its Application in Puerto Rico," Caribbean Forester 8:4 (1947): 252-254.Back. Note 44:
For the tropical mainland British foresters also worked in British Honduras and British Guinea on the South American mainland near northern Amazonia, see Arthur Bevan, "A Forest Policy for the American Tropics," Caribbean Forester 4:2 (1943): 49-53.Back. Note 45:
For the nineteenth-century background of Mexico's modern forestry operations, see Herman W. Konrad, "Tropical Forest Policy and Practice During the Mexican Porfiriato," in Changing Tropical Forests: Historical Perspectives on Today's Challenges in Central and South America, ed. Harold K. Steen and Richard P. Tucker (Durham, N.C.: Forest History Society, 1992), 123-133. For the emergence of formal training and expanded forestry law in the 1930s, see Enrique Beltran, "Forestry and Related Research in Mexico," in Forestry and Related Research in North America, ed. Frank H. Kaufert and William H. Cummings (Washington, D.C.: Society of American Foresters, 1955), 254-271; Miguel Caballero, Victor Sosa, and Juana Marin, "Forestry in Mexico," Journal of Forestry 75 (1977): 473-477.Back. Note 46:
In South America in the immediate prewar years Brazil and Argentina made similar beginnings. But just as in Mexico, these efforts were frozen by the war and were not revived until about 1950.Back. Note 47:
Caribbean Commission, Forest Research Within the Caribbean Area (Washington, D.C.: Caribbean Commission, 1947), 5-18.Back. Note 48:
Gareth Porter, with Delfin J. Ganapin, Jr., Resources, Population, and the Philippines' Future (Washington, D.C.: World Resources Institute, 1988); Eric L. Hyman, "Forestry Administration and Policies in the Philippines," Environmental Management 7:6 (1983): 511-524.Back. Note 49:
P. Saenger, E. J. Hegerl, and J. D. S. Davie, eds., Global Status of Mangrove Ecosystems, Commission on Ecology Papers, No. 3 (Gland: International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 1983); Lawrence Hamilton and Samuel C. Snedaker, eds., Handbook for Mangrove Area Management (Honolulu: East-West Center, 1984).Back. Note 50:
T. C. Whitmore, Tropical Rain Forests of the Far East, 2d ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), chaps. 1-4.Back. Note 51:
Savage, Western Impressions of Nature and Landscape in Southeast Asia.Back. Note 52:
Karl L. Hutterer, ed., Economic Exchange and Social Interaction in Southeast Asia: Perspectives from Prehistory, History, and Ethnography (Ann Arbor: Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan, 1977).Back. Note 53:
Of the many publications in ethnobotanical archeology and related fields, see for example James L. Cobban, "The Traditional Use of the Forests in Mainland Southeast Asia," Center for International Studies, Ohio University, 1968, typescript.Back. Note 54:
Boomgaard, "Forest Management and Exploitation in Colonial Java, 1677-1897," 4-14.Back. Note 55:
See H. N. Whitford, The Forests of the Philippines, Bulletin No. 10 (Manila: Bureau of Forestry, 1911): 1:12-32, for a contemporary's overview of the islands' forest cover. See Whitmore, chap. 17, for a present-day botanical analysis.Back. Note 56:
Larkin, Sugar and the Origins of Modern Philippine Society, chaps. 1-3.Back. Note 57:
Richard P. Tucker and J. F. Richards, eds., "Introduction," in Global Deforestation and the Nineteenth-Century World Economy (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1983).Back. Note 58:
Dennis Roth, "Philippine Forests and Forestry: 1565-1920," in Global Deforestation and the Nineteenth-Century World Economy, ed. Richard P. Tucker and J. F. Richards (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1983), 41.Back. Note 59:
Edgar Wickberg, The Chinese in Philippine Life, 1850-1898 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965).Back. Note 60:
Barrington Moore, "Forest Problems in the Philippines," American Forestry 16:2 (1910): 75; E. E. Schneider, Commerical Woods of the Philippines: Their Preparation and Uses (Manila: Bureau of Forestry, 1916), 13.Back. Note 61:
David W. John, "The Timber Industry and Forest Administration in Sabah under Chartered Company Rule," Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 5 (1974): 55-81.Back. Note 62:
See Bernhard E. Fernow, A Brief History of Forestry, in Europe, the United States and Other Countries (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1911); Gifford Pinchot, Breaking New Ground (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1947). For commentaries see Samuel Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1959); Harold K. Steen, The U.S. Forest Service: A History (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1976), chaps. 2-3.Back. Note 63:
Data on Ahern come primarily from Lawrence Rakestraw, "George Patrick Ahern and the Philippine Bureau of Forestry, 1900-1914," Pacific Northwest Quarterly 53 (1967): 142-150; see also Roth.Back. Note 64:
Rakestraw, 142-150; Roth, 40-42.Back. Note 65:
Pinchot, 223.Back. Note 66:
Pinchot, 224.Back. Note 67:
Pinchot, 224.Back. Note 68:
Pinchot, 226.Back. Note 69:
Pinchot, 226.Back. Note 70:
Pinchot, 231.Back. Note 71:
Quoted in Roth, 45.Back. Note 72:
Thomas Cox, Mills and Markets: A History of the Pacific Coast Lumber Industry to 1900 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1974), chaps. 5, 7.Back. Note 73:
Dean Worcester, "Philippine Forest Wealth," American Forestry 21:1 (1915): 8; Commonwealth of the Philippines, Forest Resources of the Philippines (Manila: Government Printing Press, 1939), 4-5; Whitford, 64-65.Back. Note 74:
Moore, "Forest Problems in the Philippines," 150-151.Back. Note 75:
Schneider, 16.Back. Note 76:
Moore, 150.Back. Note 77:
Schneider, 12.Back. Note 78:
Moore, 150-151; Rakestraw, 147, 148.Back. Note 79:
Schneider, 15-16.Back. Note 80:
Frederick L. Wernstedt and J. E. Spencer, The Philippine Island world, a Physical, Cultural and Regional Geography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), 428-435, describe Mindoro in some detail.Back. Note 81:
Conklin, Hanunoo Agriculture, describes these highlands. Melvin L. Merritt and H. N. Whitford, A Preliminary Working Plan for the Public Forest Tract of the Mindoro Lumber and Logging Company, Bongabon, Mindoro, P. I. Bulletin No. 6 (Manila: Bureau of Forestry, 1906), describe the island's forests as of 1906.Back. Note 82:
Rolland Gardner, Philippine Sawmills, Lumber Market, and Prices, Bulletin No. 4 (Manila: Bureau of Forestry, 1906), 69; Merritt and Whitford.Back. Note 83:
Worcester, 16.Back. Note 84:
Worcester, 11.Back. Note 85:
Moore, 80.Back. Note 86:
The pioneering research into the tropical botany of the Philippines was Samuel Record's classification work at Yale over the years.Back. Note 87:
Schneider, 13; Raphael Zon, ed., Conservation of Renewable Natural Resources (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1941), chap. 5.Back. Note 88:
Schneider, 13; Raphael Zon and William N. Sparhawk, Forest Resources of the World (New York: McGraw Hill, 1923), 1:475.Back. Note 89:
See Zon and Sparhawk, 1:474-475, for partial statistics from 1901 through 1918.Back. Note 90:
Moore, 80.Back. Note 91:
Roth, 47.Back. Note 92:
Worcester, 12.Back. Note 93:
Wernstedt and Spencer, 78-79.Back. Note 94:
Japanese investors also appeared in Central America in the late 1920s. As Japan's post-World War I industrial boom advanced, she began surveying the entire Pacific Basin for sources of raw materials including timber. In 1929 Tom Gill reported that Japanese surveyors were carrying out timber surveys in the Caribbean Basin and were decidedly secretive about their findings. See Gill, Tropical Forests of the Caribbean, chap. 12.Back. Note 95:
M. C. Kellman, Secondary Plant Succession in Tropical Montane Mindanao (Canberra: Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1970), esp. 23-27.Back. Note 96:
Moore, 78, 149.Back. Note 97:
This transformation of land from usufruct to ownership systems began in the Philippines with the first introduction of Spanish colonial law, derived from Spain's own late medieval traditions. See John Liddy Phelan, The Hispanization of the Philippines: Spanish Aims and Filipino Responses, 1565-1700 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1959), chap. 8. The issue is of fundamental importance to the imposition of modern forestry management in most of the non-European world.Back. Note 98:
In the Philippines, as elsewhere, this should not be equated with the tension between market economy and subsistence in any simple polarity, especially for modern times. Even relatively remote tribal swiddeners developed complex connections with the market, primarily as providers of a range of forest products for settled lowland populations. For examples from Mindoro, Luzon, and Mindanao see Conklin; Robert Lawless, "Deforestation and Indigenous Attitudes in Northern Luzon," Anthropology 2:1 (1978): 1-13; and Stuart A. Schlegel, Tiruray Subsistence: From Shifting Cultivation to Plow Agriculture (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1979).Back. Note 99:
Moore, "Forest Problems in the Philippines," 78.Back. Note 100:
Worcester, though not charitable in his views of most Filipinos' concern for preservation of the forests, did praise the Igorots of the pine forests of northern Luzon for their traditional system of communally limiting the lopping of branches for firewood and controlling grass fires in the pine forests. This, however, was not kaingin. Worcester, 2-4. See also Norman E. Kowal, "Shifting Cultivation, Fire, and Pine Forest in the Cordillera Central, Luzon, Philippines," Ecological Monographs 36:4 (1966): 389-419; and Lawless, 7-10.Back. Note 101:
Worcester, 11.Back. Note 102:
Phelan, 115-116.Back. Note 103:
Moore, 78; Worcester, 4.Back. Note 104:
Commonwealth of the Philippines, 9-12.Back. Note 105:
Commonwealth of the Philippines, 11.Back. Note 106:
Florencio Tamesis, "Philippine Forests and Forestry," Unasylva 2:6 (1948): 324-325.Back. Note 107:
Tamesis, 325.Back. Note 108:
G. Poblacion, "The Lumber Industry in 1946," Philippine Journal of Forestry 5:1 (1947): 72. He reports there that at the end of 1946, of the capital invested in the sawmill industry, "24.5% belonged to Filipinos, 41.2% to foreigners, and 34.3% to Filipinos associated with foreigners: American, British, Chinese, Spanish, Swiss and Puerto Rican."Back. Note 109:
Poblacion, 74. Some islands felt the lack of locally available timber and transport facilities more acutely than ever. On Cebu, where the forests had long been depleted and local needs were filled by imports from other islands, peasants expanded the cutting of the few remaining mountain forests. By 1957 Cebu had returned to its former pattern, importing 33 million board feet, mostly from the northern regions of Mindanao. Hardy L. Shirley, "Some Observations on Philippine Forestry, with Special Emphasis on Forestry Education" (unpublished paper, 1960), 8; Wernstedt and Spencer, 44.Back. Note 110:
For statistics see Anonymous, "Commodity Report: Hardwoods," Unasylva 12:4 (1958): 183-191; tables are on 186, 189. By the mid-1950s Japan reappeared on the regional market, preparing to become its primary player. In 1956 Japan imported three times more logs than any other country, mostly lauan, four-fifths of them from the Philippines and one-fifth from North Borneo, for its plywood and lumber industries. Japan's imports of logs rose from an insignificant 12,000 cubic meters in 1948 to 2,331,000 cubic meters in 1956, and that was just the beginning of the great boom that rapidly depleted large areas of hardwood forests throughout the region. From its consumption of 4 percent of the world's hardwood trade in 1950, it rose to importing 50 percent of the global trade in the 1980s. Yet the United States was deeply involved in that pattern of rising consumption too: much of that wood was ultimately re-exported to the United States as milled lumber and high-grade plywood. See James K. Boyce, The Philippines: The Political Economy of Growth and Impoverishment in the Marcos Era (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993), 227.Back. Note 111:
Boyce, 227.Back. Note 112:
Shirley, 2.Back. Note 113:
Interview with David Smith, Professor at Yale University Forestry School, 20 February 1987.Back. Note 114:
Shirley, 10.Back. Note 115:
Shirley, 8.Back. Note 116:
Hyman, 511-524.Back. Note 117:
David Kummer, Deforestation in the Postwar Philippines (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 67.Back. Note 118:
In the short period between 1979 and 1982, economist Robert Repetto calculates, timber companies' profits totaled approximately $1.5 billion, but taxes brought only $141 million of that into the public treasury. See Robert Repetto, The Forest for the Trees? Government Policies and the Misuse of Forest Resources (Washington, D.C.: World Resources Institute, 1988), chap. 3.Back. Note 119:
See the table in Boyce, 229.Back. Note 120:
Boyce, chap. 8.Back. Note 121:
Kummer, 56.Back. Note 122:
Porter and Ganapin, chap. 3.Back. Note 123:
Nicolas P. Lansigan, "Our Dwindling Forests," Forestry Leaves 11 (1959): 19.Back. Note 124:
Lansigna, 20.Back. Note 125:
Winslow L. Gooch, Forest Industries of the Philippines (Manila: Bureau of Forestry and U.S. Mutual Security Agency, 1953), 129-137.Back. Note 126:
Tom Gill, "The Menace of Forest Destruction" (unpublished paper, 1959), 5-6.Back. Note 127:
Gill, "The Menace of Forest Destruction," 12-13.Back. Note 128:
Tom Gill, Forestry Proposals for the Philippines (Manila: International Cooperation Administration and National Economic Council, 1959), especially 35-36.Back. Note 129:
Four years later another senior U.S. tropical forester, Bruce Lamb, toured the islands. Lamb had had many years' experience in Central America and the Caribbean; his study of mahogany is still the standard work on that species. Lamb's observations in the Philippines reinforced Gill's assessment of loggers and the rural poor. "The forest resources of the Islands are being destroyed at an alarming rate by small farmers working under a system of shifting cultivation called kaingin in the Philippines. Both virgin and selectively cut forest areas are being invaded and converted to worthless cogon grassland as cultivation is abandoned." He expressed the same blanket condemnation of tribal subsistence systems in the upland forests, except that in this case the brief visitor's highly simplified perceptions lacked a sense of the political basis of squatter movements or the distinction between tribals and dispossessed lowland peasants. F. Bruce Lamb, "Brief Notes on Forestry in Southeast Asia," Caribbean Forester 24:1 (1963): 19.Back. Note 130:
William J. Pomeroy, An American Made Tragedy (New York: International Publishers, 1974), 45.Back. Note 131:
Hugh Fraser, "Testing Time for Asia's Forest Products Pioneer," World Wood 21:13 (1980): 13.Back. Note 132:
James S. Bethel et al., The Role of U.S. Multinational Corporations in Commercial Forestry Operations in the Tropics (Seattle: College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, 1982).Back. Note 133:
Boyce, 223. In the 1970s and 1980s transnational corporations in the Philippines included Georgia-Pacific, Boise-Cascade, International Paper, and Weyerhaeuser, and their largest Japanese competitor, Mitsubishi.Back. Note 134:
Bevan, 52.Back. Note 135:
Callahan, 74-79.Back. Note 136:
Holdridge, Lamb, and Mason, 60-61.Back. Note 137:
Anonymous, "Commodity Report: Hardwoods," 183-191.Back. Note 138:
Anonymous, "Commodity Report: Hardwoods," 186, 188.Back. Note 139:
John A. Zivnuska, U.S. Timber Resources in a World Economy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967), 61.Back. Note 140:
McNeill, "Deforestation in the Araucaria Zone of Southern Brazil, 1900-1983," 15-32.Back. Note 141:
Anonymous, "Commodity Report: Pulp and Paper," Unasylva 12:3 (1959): 139.Back. Note 142:
Holdridge, Lamb, and Mason, 136.Back. Note 143:
F. Bruce Lamb, letter to Richard Tucker, 18 June 1987.Back.