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FORESTRY BUREAU, PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.
By Capt. GEORGE P. AHERN, Ninth United States Infantry,
In charge of Bureau,
Washington, D. C., July 30, 1901. SIR: Pursuant to instructions from the office of the Secretary of War, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the forestry bureau, Philippine Islands, from its organization in April, 1900, to the present date:
The undersigned, at present on leave of absence, has been authorized by the Philippine Commission while in the United States to visit the forestry schools at Cornell, Yale, and Biltmore for the purpose of conferring with professors and students with the object of securing graduates of these schools for the Philippine forestry service, and was also authorized to have exhibited at Buffalo, N. Y., and later at the Agricultural Department at Washington, D. C., a collection of Philippine woods.
The forestry bureau was organized by the undersigned pursuant to General Orders, No. 50, Office United States Military Governor in the Philippines, Manila, P. I., April 14, 1900. A report detailing operations of this bureau up to and including June 30, 1900, and one dated May of this year have been submitted to the governor of the Philippine Islands.
The Spanish Government had inaugurated the forestry service in 1863, some three hundred and forty years after their occupation of the islands. The forestry officials were selected from the forestry service of Spain, where a similar service had been started and a forestry school organized. The subordinate places in the service in the Philippines were partly filled by Filipinos, and at no time, up to the American occupation in 1898, had a Filipino risen to any of the higher places in the service. This was due principally to the fact that none had taken the necessary course in the forestry school of Spain.
After the undersigned took charge of this service, notices were sent to the former forestry officials to make application for service in the bureau if they so desired, such men, acquainted with the countr forest botany, people, language, and former regulations being con
ered more useful in inaugurating this work than any official obtained from other countries. A number of these officials presented themselves, with their credentials, which consisted usually of diplomas from the Agricultural College of Manila, and a detailed history of their former service. None but natives presented themselves, the Spanish foresters having returned to Spain, thus leaving the islands without a single highly trained forester. The post-office addresses of 14 native foresters and 30 rangers were taken for future reference, and these men were called upon as the service required. Authority was received to employ 4 foresters, 2 rangers, a stenographer, and a translator; the foresters at $100 and rangers at $50 Mexican per month.
Under Spanish administration a force of 66 expert foresters and 64 rangers, with 40 other subordinates as clerks, draftsmen, etc., formed the personnel of the forestry service.
The headquarters for the service was established in the old Intendencia building, in Manila, where the archives of the former forestry service were gathered together. For the first few weeks the small force employed was engaged in arranging these archives for future reference. The translator was employed in the translation of the former Spanish forestry regulations and public-land law in force at the time of the American occupation. A careful investigation of these archives failed to discover any plans of exploitation, statistics of standing timber, or forest surveys. These records consisted principally of applications for licenses, memoranda of revenues, private woodland registrations, and the ordinary official correspondence of the bureau. Upon inquiry of the former forestry officials it was learned that no plans of exploitation and no statistics of standing timber had been made. The forest zones had not been surveyed and reserved, as the last Spanish land law of 1893 had contemplated.
In the course of a few months, authority was given to increase the force employed. As competent men presented themselves, and as conditions permitted, stations were established in the provinces. A forestry service had been partially organized by the insurgents, and this fact made it more difficult to obtain a sufficient force of competent men. On October 12 an act of the United States Philippine Civil Commission prescribed the following personnel: One officer in charge; 1 inspector, at $150 gold per month; 1 chief clerk, at $100 gold per month; 1 botanist, at $100 gold per month; 1 translator, at $100 gold per month; 1 law clerk, at $75 gold per month; 1 record clerk, at $75 gold per month; 10 assistant foresters, at $50 gold per month; 30 rangers, at $25 gold per month. Later in the year authority was received to employ 2 foresters from the United States, at a salary of $200 gold per month. A further addition to the force is contemplated which will add 4 foresters, at $200 per month; 4 inspectors, at $150 per month; 20 rangers, at $25, and 2 clerks, at $50 per month.
Owing to the disturbed conditions in the provinces, a disposition was shown by the native officials to avoid service beyond Manila.
These men stated that they would be in considerable danger of violence from insurgents, as their work very often took them from the vicinity of United States troops. As a matter of fact, two rangers disappeared, one of whom reappeared after a month's time and claimed that he had been captured by the insurgents and had bought his freedom. The other disappeared in February of this year and has not been heard of since. At times the native officials would receive threat
ening notices, and as quite a number of natives friendly to Americans had been captured and murdered by the insurgents, these officials in the forestry service felt considerable alarm and could hardly be induced to inspect the rafts in the suburbs of Manila unless accompanied by one of the American officials of the bureau.
All applicants for admission to the service were required to show record of former service and good character.
Before being sent into the provinces, officials were given at least one month's training in Manila. Many of these men were found to be competent and anxious to render good service; some were found incompetent, untrustworthy, and negligent of their duties. During the year two assistant foresters and twelve rangers were discharged for cause, one translator resigned, and one ranger transferred to another branch of the civil service. As the service expanded, considerable difficulty was experienced in finding competent men. More than 50 per cent of the officials of this service are at stations distant from Manila, and usually manage their offices and field work without assistants.
All timber cut on public land is cut by license. Each shipment of forest products must be classified, measured, manifested, and orders of payment issued, all of which requires considerable training, inasmuch as 160 varieties of native tree species are received in the market, not to mention many varieties of dyewoods, gums, resins, etc., with all of which the official must be thoroughly acquainted and able to promptly classify and appraise; this in addition to his duties in charge of the forests of his district, running his office, and instructing ignorant native loggers in the principal requirements of the forestry regulations.
The demand for forest products during the past two years has been so great in the Philippine Islands that men with the information just outlined were sought for by lumber companies and offered higher salaries than were given in the forestry service. Occasionally these flattering offers would be made to the officials in the service, but as a rule the latter preferred to remain in the service and take their chances of advancement as the service grew.
No forestry officials are permitted to receive any money in addition to salary) for forest products, for supervising papers, or for any clerical or other work rendered in the course of their duties. When payment is to be made for forest products, an order of payment is issued by the forestry official, which is taken by the owner of the shipment to the nearest internal-revenue office, and when the receipt for the payment is shown to the forestry official permission is given in writing to move the forest products. This written permit the man in charge of said forest products must carry with him until the destination of shipment is reached. Each log is stamped with the bureau mark when first inspected.
A circular letter was sent to all important points in the islands requesting replies as to the extent and character of industries in the various localities in the line of forest products. Replies were received from all parts of the islands, wbich replies served as a guide in establishing stations for forestry officials. The location of parties operating under licenses to utilize forest products also served as a guide in establishing these stations.
Forestry officials are stationed near all important logging centers
and are in constant touch with parties handling even small quantities. Each official in the provinces keeps a diary of his daily operations, a transcript of which is submitted to the office in Manila every fifteen days. In addition is submitted a summary of forest products inspected by him during this period, the amount ordered paid into the internalrevenue office, and, finally, any observations he may consider necessary for the information of the central office.
Each shipment of forest products is inspected, classified, and appraised by him, and each log is stamped with the bureau mark. A copy of the manifest made out at this time is sent to Manila, a duplicate copy being given to the man in charge of the shipment. Upon arrival at its destination the forest product is again inspected and measured by a forestry official, and can not be disposed of until every requirement of the regulations is complied with. By this means a constant check is kept on all forest products taken from public and private lands. The manifest shows the name of licensee, location of cutting, the dimensions and value of each log cut, the name of the tree species, and a record of payment. This manifest appears at Manila shortly after the tree is felled. A glance at the manifest shows at once if the regulations are being followed. The restrictions as noted in the following articles act as a guaranty against any wholesale slaughter of timber, provided these regulations are enforced. At first some opposition was manifested to the many restrictions thrown around the licensees, but this opposition disappeared as they became better acquainted with the service and found that the double inspection of their shipments and the official papers did not delay the movement of their cargoes to market, as in the former administration.
ART. 59. 1. Licenses to gather or utilize forest products in the state forests shall be granted by this office.
2. Applications for said licenses must be delivered to the chief forestry official of the forest district or section, or to the district commander, who shall forward same to this office with the necessary indorsements of the forestry official of said district. In the application shall be stated the kinds of forest products desired, and the place where said products are to be gathered.
3. The gathering or utilization of forest products can be done only in the forests of the province specified in the license. If the concessioner should cut or gather forest products in the forests of any other province, said products shall be considered as unlawfully cut.
4. No charge shall be made for licenses, nor for the authentication or making out of manifests.
5. Reserved forests, and the species of trees the cutting of which is forbidden, will be noted in licenses for the information of the concessioner. The felling of trees of the superior and first groups, excepting ebony, camuning and lanetes, of a less diameter than 40 centimeters is absolutely prohibited.
6. The felling in the state forests of trees from which caoutchouc, gutta-percha, and gum elastic are extracted is prohibited.
7. The felling in the state forests of the ylang-ylang tree is prohibited.
8. The utilization of forest products not specifically mentioned in these regulations shall be by license, and said utilization shall be governed by special conditions, which may be ascertained upon presentation of application for a license to utilize said products.
ART. 60. Whosoever cuts or removes timber or other forest products prohibited by official order, or cuts species the utilization of which is prohibited by special mention in the license, shall incur a penalty amounting to four times the value of the products. A copy of these regulations shall accompany each license.
ART. 61. The concessioner must gather said forest product together and pile it in the district where cut or gathered, and not where the cutting of timber or other utilization of forest products is forbidden. For any violation he shall incur a penalty of four times the value of the product gathered.