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remained forested until the beginning in the twentieth century when population pressure

and landlessness forced large numbers of campesinos into the frontier areas and

mountainsides to farm. Much of this movement was the result of severe land degradation

in the southern region of Honduras, which was traditionally the primary agricultural

region of the country. This, coupled with a growing population, forced many families to

migrate to other areas of the country in search of land.

As a result of increased population and migration, deforestation rates have

increased. Average annual deforestation between 1964 and 1990 was 1.1%

(COHDEFOR/OEA, 1992 as cited in Molina, 1997), and from 1990 to 1995 that figure

rose to 2.3% or 102,000 hectares per year (FAO, 1999). Natural forest lands have borne

the brunt of this destruction as they are converted to crop and pasture lands by migrating

campesinos. Other threats to forests are incessant fires and logging activities, both legal

and illegal. Prior to the 1970s, campesinos were never legally allowed to take advantage

of the abundant forest resources the country held. Forestry activities, specifically

logging, had been the domain of foreign and domestically-owned businesses for all of the

early history of Honduras.

SOCIAL FORESTRY SYSTEM BECOMES LAW

In 1974, the Honduran National Congress passed Law 103 which created

COHDEFOR, the Honduran Forest Development Corporation. Prior to 1974, most forest

exploitation was dominated by foreign owned companies. The new law specified that all

forests were the property of the state even on private or communal land. COHDEFOR

was given exclusive rights to lumber exports, and state lumber companies were

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