Location: one of the top ten hotspots in the world, archipelago of 7,107 islands, has the 5th longest coastline in the world, bordered by the Philippine Sea to the east, South China Sea to the west, and the Celebes Sea to the south. Most of the mountainous islands are covered in tropical rainforest and volcanic in origin, situated on the western edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity. Because of the volcanic activity, there are many abundant mineral deposits.

Threats to the area: natural hazards include typhoons and cyclonic storms. there are usually approximately 15 typhoons and 5-6 cyclonic storms per year. The Philippines often experience landslides, volcanic destruction and earthquakes.

• Hundreds of years ago, the Philippine islands were covered in rainforest, and at higher elevations, there were mossy forests that consisted mostly of mossy trees and vegetation. Now however, only seven percent of the rainforest is left, and a mere three percent of the lowland forests remains. Major threats to the Philippine forests include mining and deforestation, as well as the country’s development plans to civilize the country. In addition, introducing exotic species such as the giant catfish and the American bullfrog have negatively affected the wetland biodiversity. Plants such as the water hyacinth and the water fern have also had the same negative impact.Other issues include deforestation, air and water pollution, pollution of the coastal mangrove swamps which are important fish breeding grounds, and various severe water pollution

Unique plants and animals:  The Republic of the Philippines is inhabited by near 1,100 land vertebrates.  This includes 100 mammal species and 170 bird species endemic to the region.  Species such as the Tamaraw (Mindoro dwarf Buffalo or a small hoofed mammal,) the Philippine flying lemur and the Visayan spotted deer are not thought to exist anywhere else in the world.  Save for snakes and birds of prey, the Philippines lack large predators.

Mouse Deer

  • Spotted Deer

  • 55 of the 70 threatened bird species in the world are found in the Philippines.

•The coral reefs of the Philippines are extremely diverse including 464 species of hard corals as well as 50 species of soft coral.

  • Protective Organizations:  Protected areas are vital to the conservation of the Philippines biodiversity however, a mere 11 percent of the total land area is protected.  This 11 percent of the Philippines landmass only accounts for 6 percent of the regions biodiversity hot spot.
  • To ensure the adequate protection of key biodiversity hotspots, Conservation International-Philippines in collaboration with the Field Museum in Chicago, and the Haribon Foundation alongside other local partners are in the process of identifying and delineating key biodiversity areas throughout the Philippines.  This work is supported by CEPF.
  • Despite the efforts being made, basic field research is desperately needed to support the conservation activities.
  • Overall, the long term goal for the conservation effort is to maintain the land and seascape of the Philippines in order to ensure the persistence of the massive biodiversity of the region.

7 responses »

  1. caitlinrdavis says:

    I am amazed at how many islands the Philippines make up! The Philippines seems to be a place for smaller animals which is quite interesting. It seems that the majority of hotspots do not have a high percantage of protection rates. I think more and more people need to be informed of how much destruction we are doing to the earth because of the lack of nature protection.

  2. I don’t understand why countries like the Philippines don’t embrace their beautiful natural landscapes instead of resorting to deforestation in order to make their areas more commercialized and “civilize” their country. It’s depressing to hear “only seven percent of the rainforest is left”, and I’m not sure how the world has let something like this happen over the years.

  3. This is one of the most interesting hotspots that I have got a chance to read about.
    First of all, the country itself is so diverse and interesting to learn (the culture and geography, including the amount of islands that make up for the Philippines). I believe that many of the problems mentioned in the note, come down to the issue of losing natural habits. As it was stated, only 7% of the original rainforest still exist. It is a terrifying statistics, especially looking at the rate of continuous destruction of the 7% of the left forests. It is not only a national or regional problem, but it leads to global issues, such as air pollution and process of photosynthesis and oxygen production. Any other activities, such as mining, only expand the large areas of deforestation, because they open up the forests for human exploration.

    I was also surprised reading that 55 threatened species of birds are found in the Philippines. It shows how important the hotspot is to sustain global biodiversity. There are also a lot of endemic species, that sum up to a great diversity of fauna and flora.
    I believe an important issue in the Philippines is the location and distribution of all islands. It makes it more difficult to communicate between each island and to implement any scientific projects, such as research.

    – Kasia (Katarzyna) Dybek

  4. kristysiciliano says:

    that’s so crazy about the amount of storms a year they have, 15 typhoons thats insane and 5 – 6 cyclonic storms? thats nuts, i personally wouldn’t be able to handle that. thats really unfortunate that only 7% of the rainforest still exists, i must say the mouse deer is adorable.

  5. Ashley Raynor says:

    To learn that only 7 percent of the Philippines rainforests are covered in vegetation, when the area was mostly covered in rainforest is devastating. Such beautiful islands. I was also surprised to learn that there is a species of lemur in the Philippines! I love lemurs!

  6. Leo Costa says:

    For once it seems that one of the huge threats is not by man. There are natural hazards that threaten this hotspot. There are a number of typhoons and cyclonic storms that occur every year. There are even active volcanoes and landslides.

  7. This is a very interesting and unique hotspot, being that most of the “threats” are natural- storms and the like are natures way of cleaning and changing things. I think it’s awful that people have caused so much deforestation, and that we really think invasive species are helpful. There are so many interesting and unique species to the area, and the new species probably don’t go too well with the original inhabitants. I wonder if one day we’ll stop that process and learn that nature takes care of itself, and we just need to learn how to mix in with it.
    -Ailish Reilly

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