In the Philippines, deforestation is a leading cause of habitat destruction that negatively impacts biodiversity on an exponential scale. Poorly controlled logging and mining activities have created mostly irreparable damage to forest cover, affecting the diverse assemblages of flora and fauna that inhabit those primary forest territories. Findings stated in the DENR-FMB’s (Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Forest Management Bureau) 2011 Philippine Forest Statistics establish that only about 24% remains of the country’s forest cover. In like manner, marine habitats such as coral reefs are being destroyed by way of irresponsible and unsustainable fishing and aquaculture practices such as dynamite and poison-dependent fishing is harming marine habitats ecosystems all over the country. As a result, only 5% of the Philippine coral reef system is regarded in excellent condition, and over 32% are already severely damaged. The World Resources Institute reports that 60% of coral reefs on a global scale are threatened. However, a staggering 85% of the reefs within the Coral Triangle alone are threatened.
Exploitation of Natural Resources and Wildlife
Another cause of biodiversity loss is the participation in the extraction and exploitation of natural resources for economic purposes. What started out as mere “subsistence hunting and gathering” among traditional societies have been exacerbated into far less sustainable practices upon the advancement of international economic relationships. Perhaps even more worrying is the fact that this happens both within legal bounds as well as beyond them. Many critically endangered species today, both on land and at sea, have over-exploitative and misguided hunting and practices to blame for their current plight. Beyond such inappropriate hunting practices, unsustainable means of natural resource gathering are also a legitimate concern. The state of aquatic resources illustrates this effect very well, as over-fishing and use of unsound fishing equipment (trawl nets, dynamite, cyanide etc.) have contributed to a widespread fish stock depletion in many areas around the world. Coral mining is likewise an unsustainable resource-gathering practice, and equates with habitat destruction for numerous marine species.
Foreign and exotic species can also drive native inhabitants to extinction, in the event that the former are able to successfully adapt within the new habitat. Not all foreign species are built to adapt to new territories. Those that are able to must have a distinct, innate resistance and resilience to unfamiliar and often adverse living conditions. These advantages are often what make them problematic, outcompeting native populations for already limited resources such as food and habitat.
Waste and Pollution
Waste products and pollution are major contributing factors to the decline in biodiversity numbers. The IUCN has identified pollution in all forms (solid, liquid, and gaseous) as critical threats to the survival of avian (12%), amphibian (29%), and mammalian (4%) species.
As population numbers grow, so does the amount of waste material generated. Solid waste, particularly non-biodegradable plastics, always draws the most attention as people are able to tangibly suffer the consequences of its mismanagement as much as wildlife does. For instance, accumulated solid waste continues to add to the worsening flooding problems in the Philippines, affecting and harming the day-to-day operations of urban and rural areas alike. Meanwhile, solid waste that make it all the way to open water systems put marine life in constant danger. Chemical pollution is another prevalent issue that contributes to biodiversity loss in the Philippines. This occurs mostly in the form of organochlorines, which are used for agriculture and pest control. Despite being long banned across many countries, the impacts of its use from the past are still being felt today, as residual by-products can be found in animal tissues. This poses an ecological risk, especially among predatory species, in which accumulation of the residue.