There are few signs today of the Philippines’ once sprawling rainforests. With a growing trend in human population, it is hoped that the country’s marine environment will not suffer the same fate. Overfishing and destructive fishing
Fishers in the Philippines are increasingly coming home with pitiful catches. Of a number of factors which have led to this situation, one stands out: over-fishing in many areas. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), there has been a drop of 90% in the quantity of marine organisms that can be trawled in some traditional fishing areas of the Philippines.
This isn’t just a question of declining fish stocks and biodiversity, but also of social impacts and economic losses. Mismanagement of fisheries resources is estimated to cost US$ 420 million annually in lost revenues.
At the root of the overfishing problem is weak fisheries management, ineffective policies and poor enforcement of fishery laws.
Coastal infrastructure development
Coastal zone development has been particularly damaging to the Philippines’ marine environment, especially to coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrasses.
As populations have increased, so have their needs for construction materials and living space. Excavation, dredging, and coastal conversion to accommodate coastal development have seen corals being extracted for reclamation and construction, especially in coastal villages.
Mangroves have particularly suffered from coastal development, notably at the hands of the aquaculture industry. In the Philippines, aquaculture has reduced mangrove stands to only 36% of 1900 levels. Deforestation
After decades of deforestation, which has left about 3% of the original cover, forests continue to be under threat from agriculture and urbanization, illegal logging and forest fires.
Sustained forest loss in the Philippines is causing severe soil erosion, and is threatening the country’s rich biodiversity. This is particularly worrying as many of the Philippines’ species, which depend on these forests, are endemic (they cannot be found anywhere else in the world). For example, of 180 native terrestrial mammal species here, about 61% are endemic.
Inconsistent laws, inadequate regulations, weak enforcement and lack of funding are making forest conservation a major challenge. Pollution
Only about 10% of sewage in the Philippines is treated or disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. The rest goes back to nature – usually the sea.
In this context of poor waste treatment and high population growth, water pollution is a growing problem for the country’s groundwater, rivers, lakes, and coastal areas. Polluting industrial material is also found in abandoned mining areas, with mercury pollution affecting water bodies in these areas.