Along with its remarkable levels of species endemism, the Philippines is one of the world's most threatened hotspots, with only about seven percent of its original, old-growth, closed-canopy forest left. Threats to the Philippines' biodiversity include:

Extractive industries

Destructive resource use often results from extractive industries such as mining, logging and fishing, on commercial and small scales, and from the road building necessary to develop them. Although these activities are regulated by the government, implementation of regulatory safeguards is inconsistent and hampered by limited resources.

Areas abandoned by commercial logging and mining concessions attract many small (and illegal) loggers and miners whose activities are generally more destructive. Where there are commercial logging and mining activities, there is migration of people seeking related employment, opening up areas for settlements and bringing workers and families to previously uninhabited areas.

Hunting, poaching and flora collection follow human migration into upland areas, aggravating the threat to wildlife. Moreover, logged-over areas are often converted to kaingin (swidden) cultivation, clearing them of remaining vegetation.

Increased population density and urban sprawl

Population pressure as a threat to biodiversity stems mainly from the encroachment into, and exploitation of, biologically important areas by impoverished people whose primary concern is survival. Such people often migrate in substantial numbers between areas and islands, having lost their lands through such factors as soil erosion and exhaustion, landslips, and volcanic eruptions.

The destructive swidden cultivation of uplands and logged-over areas, illegal logging, and hunting and collection of wildlife and flora are widespread. Further, the mainstreaming of indigenous communities has resulted in the gradual loss of indigenous knowledge and practices, which are conservation-friendly.

Conflicting policies

Unclear land use policies at the national level create confusion and conflicts. Overlapping mandates and jurisdictions occur with respect to the use and management of forest lands where logging, mining, plantation, special uses and settlement encroachment are concerned.

Similar problems occur at the local level in response to indiscriminate land use conversion and development projects. Weak consideration, if any, is given to environment and biodiversity conservation by local governments in land use decisions.

In cases where proper land use and zoning controls are in place, the problem lies with the political will to enforce those controls, particularly where there are unresolved conflicting uses and contending institutions or influential parties involved.

Read more about these and other threats in our 2001 ecosystem profile (PDF - 1.7 MB).