Illegal logging in Northern Sierra Madre National Park, Isabela, Philippines

Large-scale illegal logging networks, appropriating millions of dollars, threaten primary forests and thousands of villagers, depending on the ecosystem services provided by the unique Natural Park


The Northern Sierra Madre National Park (NSMNP), covering an area of 359,486ha, is among the largest protected natural parks in the Philippines and one of the 10 priority protected areas. It is habitat to a remarkable amount of endemic birds and mammals. Around 25,000 people live within the NSMNP, 1,800 of which belong to the indigenous Agta tribe, strongly depending on a healthy environment for their livelihood. Some settlements date back to over 300 years. Outside the park, around 1.5 million people depend on the hydrological services provided by the NSMNP [1].

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Basic Data
NameIllegal logging in Northern Sierra Madre National Park, Isabela, Philippines
ProvinceIsabela province
SiteCagayan valley
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific CommoditiesTimber
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsLogging hotspots are largely located within riparian forests, with Narra wood (Pterocarpus indicus) being the preferred timber species, primarily used for furniture [1].

According to a field study [1], 11 logging hotspots were identified in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park in 2007. These are located in 1) Pinacanauan de San Pablo (Tuba), 2.) Puerta (Dy Abra, Masipi East), 3.) Pinacanauan de Tumauini (Antagan), 4) Bintacan River (Batong Labang), 5) Abuan River (Cabeseria 27), 6) Catalangan River (Villa Miranda, San Isidro), 7) Disabungan River (Del Pilar), 8) Ilaguen River (Tappa, Ibujan), 9) Divilacan coast (Dilakit, Dimasalansan, Bicobian), 10)Palanan River (Dilacnadanom, Culasi), 11) Palanan Coast (Didadungan, Divinisa, Dimatatno).

The report [1] estimated that annual extraction in these 11 illegal logging sites during 2007 amounted to around 20,000 to 35,000 cubic meters, with a total market value of 238 million PHP to 393 million PHP. Missed forest taxes were estimated to amount to around 30 million PHP to 51 million PHP. Annual benefits for several illegal logging bosses were estimated to amount to a total of 42-200 million PHP (840,000 to 4,000,000 USD).

A Greenpeace report from 2006 [4] also reported on 9 spotted illegal logging sites, 3 of them overlapping with the previously mentioned report [1]; while mentioning other six sites: Dunoy lake, Dungsok lake, Kamalaklakan, Pagsungayan, Diwagao, and Diguse location.

No concrete information on the involved companies has been available. The Greenpeace report states as an example the Digna Abad Wood Products Company, one of the oldest furniture businesses based in IIagan City, Isabela Province [4].

It was estimated that around 3000 people from local villages are involved in the logging network of NSMNP, lead by organized an organized urban business network. Working in logging teams is among the most profitable local income generating activities [1].
Project Area (in hectares)359,486 (area of the national park)
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population25,000 (directly dependent on forest resources) - 1,500,000 (depending on hydrological services of the park)
Start Date1980
Company Names or State EnterprisesDigna Abad Wood Products Company from Philippines - furniture, wood processing
Relevant government actorsDepartment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)

Local Government Units (LGUs)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersTanggol kalikasan; Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park Conservation Project; Provincial Anti-Illegal Logging Taskforce; Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc. (SSMNAI), comprised of: Ecowaste Coalition; Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (FMMJPIC); Franciscan Movement Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (FMJPIC); Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (SFIC); Great Work Movement; Green Convergence; Green Hope; Greenresearch Environmental Research Group (Greenresearch ERG); Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (JPICC-AMRSP); Multi Sectoral Action Group (MSAG) Aurora; Order of Friar Minors Conventual Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (OFMConJPIC); Order of Friar Minors Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation (OFM JPIC); Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA); Public Education & Awareness Campaign for the Environment (PEACE), Miriam College; Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society Inc. (SSMESI); Samahan ng mga Katutubong Agta na Ipinagtatanggol at Binabaka ang Lupaing Ninuno (SAGIBIN LN); Social Action Center - Antipolo (SAC); Task Force Sierra Madre (TFSM); Tribal Center Development (TCD); Greenpeace, and others.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Recreational users
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Local ejos
Fisher people
Local government/political parties
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local scientists/professionals
Indigenous Agta tribe
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Soil contamination
OtherSiltation of rivers due to transport of illegal timber, affecting fish sanctuaries
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Malnutrition
OtherHeavy floods during 2008, in which around 100 people died, were related to the increasing forestation due to increasing illegal logging.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Militarization and increased police presence, Displacement
OtherLoss of taxes on forest products; financing of political campaigns with illegal revenues.
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMoratoria
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
New legislation
Criminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Institutional changes
Violent targeting of activists
Killing of Mayor Francisco Talosig, likely related to his anti-logging campaigns
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Development of AlternativesAlliances, such as the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, aim to end illegal logging by raising awareness and by claiming the need to implement proper forest policies and protection.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Illegal logging goes on.
Sources and Materials

Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park (NSMNP) Act of 2001 (Republic Act No. 9125).
[click to view]

The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA)
[click to view]

FAO Review of Forestry Policies in the Philippines
[click to view]

[click to view]

Chainsaw Act of 2002 (RA 9175)
[click to view]

Palanan Wilderness Area (Letter of Instruction 917-A)
[click to view]


[1] Van der Ploeg, J., Van Weerd, M., Masipiqueña, A., and Persoon, A. 2011. Illegal Logging in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, Philippines. Conservation and Society 9(3): 202-215
[click to view]

[4] Greenpeace Southeast Asia, April 2006 "Sierra Madre: Under Threat. A close look at illegal logging in one of the Philippines’ last remaining old growth forests" (accessed 03/06/2015)
[click to view]

Greenpeace Report: Sierra Madre:

Under Threat
[click to view]


[2] online (23/01/2013): "Isabela town mayor shot dead in QC" (accessed 03/06/2015)
[click to view]

[3] Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc. (Webpage) (accessed 03/06/2015)
[click to view]

Other Documents

[click to view]

Illegal logging hotspot Source:
[click to view]

Illegal logging camps
[click to view]

Illegal logging camps Source:
[click to view]

Wood processed to furniture Source:
[click to view]

Campaigning Source:
[click to view]

Transport of illegal timber logs Source:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim "dot" scheidel "at" gmail "dot" com
Last update05/06/2015