The Philippine forests are one of a kind. They support thousands of flora and fauna from bonsai forests in the upper mountain latitudes to mangroves forests that fringe the coastal areas.
Its biodiversity ranges from around 1,196 types of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles while there are at least 8,931 known species of trees, ferns and shrubs. At least 45.8 percent and 39.2 percent of the fauna and flora respectively are native or can only be found in the country.
Moreover, these forests are not only home to wildlife species but also slow down run-off, store carbon, contribute to climate regulation and filter pollutants.
Filipinos and forests are very much interlinked. Forests directly support 30 percent of the Philippine population for the people’s livelihood and subsistence needs. With a 100-meter thick mangrove forest cover, the intensity of storm waves may be reduced by 66 percent therefore saving coastal communities.
According to the 2013 Forest Management Bureau Forestry Report, the Philippine’s forest cover is around 23.89 percent. The country lost around 10 million hectares of forest cover from 1934 to 1988, equivalent to 227 million basketball courts.
Degrading forests result to several problems like landslides (since most forests are found in the slope areas), flashfloods, and siltation in the bodies of water, reduced land fertility and the quality and quantity of water in our watersheds.
Forests are also vital in the midst of the impacts of climate change. Planting trees can equally reduce the carbon in the form of carbon dioxide circulating in the atmosphere and minimize the probability of climate-related disasters like storm surges and run-off.
Despite this doom and gloom, the Philippines can still avoid environmental catastrophes. Filipinos must start restoring their natural forests by planting native trees and joining rainforestation initiatives like Haribon’s Road to 2020, which aims to bring back 1 million hectares of forest cover.
To further protect Philippine forests by integrating them in laws, be updated on the proceedings like the Forest Resources Bill that seeks to ensure continued and efficient use of forest resources by present and future generations.
To know more about Road to 2020, visit www.haribon.org.ph.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’s Global Forest Resources Assessment (2005 & 2010) and the State of the World’s Forests (2009, 2007, 2005, 2003, 2001)
Liu,D.S., L.R.Iverson and S. Brown. 1993. Rates and patterns of deforestation in the Philippines: application of geographic information system analysis. Forest Ecology and Management 57 (1993) 1-16.