Population growth, poverty, and environmental stress: frontier migration in the Philippines and Costa Rica.

Cruz MC; Meyer CA; Repetto R; Woodward R
Washington, D.C., World Resources Institute, 1992 Oct. viii, 92 p.

Studies in Costa Rica and the Philippines analyze the underlying mechanisms that have led to resource degradation: land tenure policies, population growth, and narrow economic policies advanced during the debt crisis. In both countries migration patterns are also involved in the interaction between economic crisis, demographic change, legal institutions, and ecological problems. The linkages are multiple and complex. Both countries have seen a rapidly growing population migrating out of cities to easily degraded forest slopes due to poverty. Land management and tenure policies mitigate the effect of migration on the environment. In the Philippines, economic growth has been only moderate compared to rapid population growth. The family planning program has not reached sufficient number of poor and rural households. Population and economic policies have failed to reduce poverty. Land tenure policies have given leases on forest land to large-scale timer companies. In Costa Rica, population density is not as great as in the Philippines, but migration into marginal lands has resulted due to government incentives and tenure policies. The policy implications are that policy in each sphere (migration, economy, resources, family planning) must not be made in isolation but at multiple points of intervention. Economic policies must be gender neutral; policies must reflect wider access to education and health services, security of land tenure, equitable distribution of agricultural land holdings. In the case study of the Philippines, discussion focuses on the population trends and policies, growth in the uplands, upland population density, expanding cultivation and soil loss, demand for fuelwood, and deforestation as issues which show the effect of population pressure on resources. The issues of increased landlessness, inadequate access to arable lands, and insecure tenure are discussed in terms of their impact on degradation. Migration has been spurred on by settlement programs. Commercial logging which is allowed for 25-year periods to concessionaires encourages the cut-and-run approach; the barren land is then accessible to migrants. The economic crisis of the 1980s and the shift in migration patterns is then described. The case study for Costa Rica follows a similar pattern in the discussion of population pressure, poverty, economics, and migration. Policy change is needed very badly in both countries.

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