Press Release
December 15, 2010

Manifestation on the International Year of Biodiversity
Plenary Session
15 December 2010, Wednesday

"Biodiversity is life. Biodiversity is our life."

This is the slogan launched by the United Nations General Assembly when it proclaimed the year 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. As the year ends, it is imperative to understand and address the challenges in sustaining our biological diversity, which is the foundation of life on Earth.

The Philippines is very fortunate to be one of the 17 mega-biodiversity countries. It ranks fifth (5th) in the number of plant species, fourth (4th) in bird endemism, and maintains five percent (5%) of the world's flora.[1]

However, our country is also one the world's top biodiversity hotspots, with a large number of species threatened by overexploitation, habitat loss, pollution and degradation of habitats.[2] In fact, the country ranks third for threatened birds and eighth for threatened mammals. Furthermore, there are 695 plants and 223 animals in the Philippines that are considered as threatened species.[3]

During a Senate hearing by the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources last week, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources stated that of the country's total land area of about 30 million hectares, only 7.2 million hectares are forest covered. The ideal should be at least 12 million hectares or 48% of the total land area.

Mr. President, the way we have lived in the past decades, our failure to protect our natural resources mainly due to lack of concern, and now the threat of climate change cause more stress in our biodiversity resources, which are already in danger of deterioration.

It has been forecasted that about 30% of species face a high risk of extinction if global mean temperatures exceed 1.5-2.5°C above pre-industrial levels.[4]

All of these cause alarm as our ecosystems supply priceless environmental services that we need for our existence.

We have the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act, which was passed to ensure the continuous existence of all native plants and animals through the preservation, protection and management of the country's natural habitats.

However, Mr. President, even if we have the legal mechanism to prevent biodiversity loss, our efforts would be wasted if people are unaware of the importance of conserving biodiversity and of the underlying threats to it. We are confronted with the task of protecting our country's unique but endangered biodiversity. Pursuing a kind of development that has genuine regard for the state of our natural wealth has never become more crucial than today.

The ecological clock is ticking away. The challenge is for all of us to make our environment cleaner, greener and safer for future generations. If we do not act today, tomorrow may be too late.


[1] Assessing Progress Towards the 2010 Biodiversity Target: 4th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Republic of the Philippines, 2009

[2] Ibid.

[3] Asian Development Bank Country Environmental Analysis: Philippines, 2008

[4] Addressing climate change, Issues and solutions from around the world. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 2010.

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