(P72AB) Transforming Tropical Forests and Islands: Human Management of the Environments of the Philippine Archipelago in Long Time


Double Panel

Part 1

Session 5
Thu 09:00-10:30 K10 | 3.05

Part 2

Session 6
Thu 11:00-12:30 K10 | 3.05


Save This Event

Add to Calendar

Part 1

Part 2

Show Paper Abstracts


The tropical forests of the Philippines have played a fundamental role in the character of the archipelago for millennia, providing sustenance and resources to indigenous peoples and offering high quality resources for commerce and construction. Now, their increasing absence as a result of mass-deforestation quickens erosion and amplifies the vulnerability of the islands to storms, landslides, and nutrient depletion. A straightforward narrative of accelerating and capacious environmental devastation coincides with ‘Anthropocene’ tropes, but also unconsciously advances a myth of the pristine and ancient forest prior to the industrial era. The forests of the Philippines archipelago and their veritable bounties of
endemic flora and fauna have experienced anthropogenic manipulation and exploitation since at least 2,500-2,000 BCE, when agriculture first arrived in the Philippines. From the selective cultivation of various plant species by nomadic peoples to the practice of swidden agriculture in permanent settlements, from the construction of vessels from molave to the mass clearing of forests inspired by regional and global market demand, the character of Philippine forests has been altered and maintained by humans. Studying how these forests have transformed in the previous four millennia requires interdisciplinary collaboration that utilizes palaeobotanical, archaeological, and archival data. This panel draws upon case studies in
history and archaeology to focus on moments of change and transition, when shifting anthropogenic demands and knowledge of forests prompted local and ultimately regional ecological transformations. By exploring this socio-environmental relationship over the longterm, from the beginnings of agriculture in the archipelago through the proto-historic and colonial periods, this panel will take a first step towards contextualizing twenty-first century Philippine deforestation within the larger story of how humans actively modify tropical forests they inhabit to meet their biological and commercial needs.