Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ph doing well in biodiversity conservation

Surprise, surprise. Forests now cover over half of the Philippines. 

It actually increased from 23.9 percent in 2003 to 52.6 percent of the total land area in 2006, according to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

This is among the country's major achievements toward achieving international biodiversity targets by 2020, says a CBD country profile citing the Philippine Millennium Development Goal report of 2007.

Protected areas increased from 8.5 percent in 1992 to 12.8 percent of total land area in 2008, including 1,169 marine protected areas (in the form of reserves, sanctuaries and parks). Improvements in the management effectiveness of these sites rose from 15 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2007. 

The number of confiscations of illegally traded wildlife species regulated increased from 513 heads in 2005 to 11,124 heads in 2011; measures such as fish farming and eco-tourism in protected areas are being implemented.

The Philippines started formulating its National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in 1994. 

By 2006, 228 key biodiversity areas covering an estimated 10.56 million hectares were identified. 

Indigenous knowledge and the practices of 16 tribes were documented by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples between 2005 and 2008. Access and benefit-sharing have been institutionalized through the process of free and prior informed consent from indigenous and local communities.

The Philippines is one of 18 mega-biodiverse countries of the world. These countries contain two-thirds of the earth’s biodiversity and up to 80 percent of the world’s plant and animal species. The Philippines ranks fifth in the number of plant species and maintains 5 percent of the world’s flora. 

Species endemism is very high, covering at least 25 genera of plants and 49 percent of terrestrial wildlife. The country ranks fourth in bird endemism. 

The Philippines is also one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots with at least 700 threatened species, thus making it one of the top global conservation areas. 

The national list of threatened fauna species was established in 2004 and includes 42 species of land mammals, 127 species of birds, 24 species of reptiles and 14 species of amphibians. The Philippines counts at least 3,214 fish species, of which about 121 are endemic and 76 threatened.  In 2007, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources established a national list of threatened plant species, indicating that 99 species were critically endangered, 187 were endangered, 176 vulnerable as well as 64 other threatened species. 

The country’s agricultural ecosystem is remarkable. It is part of the center of diversity of rice, coconut, mungbean, taro and yam, as well as the center of origin and diversity of bananas in Southeast Asia. 

The Philippines derives large benefits from ecosystems, supporting fisheries, recreation and tourism. A watershed with adequate forest cover provides water that supports lowland agriculture, prevents soil erosion and siltation of coasts and water bodies, and sustains the supply of surface and groundwater for domestic use. Forests provide benefit agriculture, industries, water and power needs; tree plantations and agroforestry provide jobs and revenues, with agriculture representing 18.4 percent of the country’s GDP in 2007. (SciencePhilippines)

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