There are more than fifty thousand species native to these islands, of which more than half cannot be found anywhere else on the planet.
Of course, as the country’s economy develops, human activity inevitably encroaches onto the natural world. This is an unwelcome trend that could easily spell doom for countless species, especially if corrective action is not taken in advance. Once lost, biodiversity can take a long time to recover – and certain species may never recover.
Feet Do Travel discuss the biodiversity of the Philippines and the fight to protect it.
As industry expands, it emits waste, some of which is destructive to the natural environment. In this part of the world, air pollution sits at twice the WHO’s recommended value, when measured in terms of particulate matter per volume of air.
The food industry must shoulder a large portion of the blame for the plight of the country’s environment. Much of the truly unsustainable practice takes place at sea, where unsustainable fishing intensity drives down populations of fish to the point where the ocean can no longer provide. Similarly, demand for exotic pets and bushmeat in foreign countries pushes a level of hunting which also isn’t sustainable.
A number of endemic species are being pushed to the brink of extinction through loss of habitat. Some have less than 4% of their natural environment left. Land used for agriculture has grown steadily since the early seventies, and now sits at around 41% of the country’s total landmass. When you consider this includes areas which are not suitable for farmland, the problem becomes even more worrying.
The natural beauty of the Philippines is not only an aesthetic and ethical benefit to the country – it’s also a financial one. When tourists from around the world were flocking to the Philippines to marvel at its natural beauty, there was a strong incentive for locals to preserve the environment. The impact of Covid-19 has removed this incentive.
What is being done?
With all of the problems we have identified, we’re still left with the question of what to do about them. While some problems, like the illegal international trade in animals, will require multilateral attention, there are others which can be addressed locally.
Of course, the livelihoods of Filipinos are intimately linked to the environmental health of their homeland. Fewer tourists will visit a country that lacks natural beauty, but also because unsustainable practices will eventually lead to economic harm. This will mean fewer tourists, and a decline in demand for the peso on forex trading platforms.
Few incentives are more immediate than a potential loss of wealth. Spreading this message is therefore vital if the problem is to be solved.
Improving law enforcement
Enforcing the law in the Philippines is difficult. Being an archipelago, it’s difficult to quickly move around the place and act upon intelligence. As such, underfunded law enforcement often finds itself playing catch-up with organised wildlife criminals. The sums involved in funding the latter are vast, and thus the procedures will have to be improved if these practices are to be eliminated.
Technological solutions may hold the key to monitoring and safeguarding biodiversity in the region. Research may be bolstered through closer collaboration between Filipino universities, and those around the world.
Pin this post and help spread awareness