Philippine president bans logging after deadly floods

30 November 2004 Real, Philippines
Image caption Floods on often illegally denuded hillsides have killed thousands of Filipinos over the years

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has imposed a nationwide moratorium on logging, following floods that have affected much of the country.

Mr Aquino said excessive logging was making these areas more prone to landslides and flooding.

But this new ban will be extremely hard to implement.

Big timber corporations are extremely powerful, and in some parts of the country illegal logging is allowed to go unpunished by corrupt officials.

More than 70 Filipinos have died in the past month, in flooding caused by unusually heavy rainfall.

Experts have long warned that cutting down too many trees leads to soil erosion, heightening the risk of flooding and landslides.

President Aquino believes that logging was indirectly responsible for many of the recent deaths.

He has now announced a new moratorium, under which no new timber contracts will be granted for cutting natural forests anywhere in the Philippines.

Existing contracts will be reviewed, and a task force will be created to enforce the policy.

This is not the first time a Philippine leader has tried to rein in the loggers. Almost every recent president has tried some sort of ban, with little success.

The last attempt at a ban was in 2004, under the presidency of Gloria Arroyo. The policy had few noticeable results and was lifted after a year.

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