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Biodiversity in the Philippines
Date Posted: 2005-12-24
Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth. It encompasses variation in the ecosystem, species, and the genetic make-up of these organisms. In the Philippines, there are about 8,000 species of flowering plants and about 4,500 species of non-flowering plants including algae, fungi, hepatics, mosses, and ferns found scattered in diverse habitats from marine fresh waters to various types of terrestrial habitats. Of these, an estimated 30-40 percent are endemic to the country and found nowhere else in the world.
These plants are found in diverse habitats from marine and freshwaters, to various types of terrestrial habitats including the mangrove forests to the lowland primary forests, to the sub-alpine vegetation in the highest mountains of the country.
STATUS OF PLANTS IN THE WILD
Through the years man has utilized and exploited the natural habitats of native plants for his basic and other needs. Forests, where most of the diversity of plants occur are indiscriminately logged, burned, and cleared at such an alarming rate. In fact, the Philippines is considered as one of the "10 hotspots of the world". Many of forest products like rattan, and resin are continuously harvested without provision of replenishing the stock. At the pace that the habitats are being destroyed or altered, it is feared that many plant species would have perished before the end of the century.
WHY SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED ABOUT PLANTS?
Plants forms an important link in the chain of life. They do not only provide us with the basic necessities of life but they also provide medicine, energy, and other products that enhance and improve our way of living. We must therefore protect and save the plants that protect and save us. Without plants we cannot possibly live.
* Conducting research and field surveys to identify and gather information about critical plant sites as well as rare, endemic, and endangered plants of the Philippines.
* Coordinating with various government agencies, private companies, consultancy groups, industry, conservation organizations, schools and universities, tourism agencies, etc. on projects and activities which pertain to plant diversity, conservation, and related fields.
* Providing answers to inquiries of teachers, students, and the general public about plant diversity, local flora, critical plant sites, and rare and endangered Philippine plants.
* Publishing newsletters, brochures, pamphlets, posters, and popular publications about plant diversity and conservation.
* Managing a specialized library on biodiversity publications for public use.
* Conducting training courses for school teachers, students, National Government Organizations (NGOs), Government Organizations (GOs), and conservation organizations about field survey, herbarium and laboratory techniques in plant inventory and conservation, plant identification, and other related topics.
# Over 200,000 dried, identified, and systematically filed plant specimens collected from the Philippines and abroad, known collectively to botanists.
# A specialized library on biodiversity, plant conservation, taxonomy, geography, etc.
# Computerized databases on plants of the Philippines, their current botanical name, distribution, ecology, pertinent literature, etc. and on publications on biodiversity research in the Philippines.
# Competent staff trained in conducting research on rare and endangered plants, and conducting training courses in plant conservation techniques, herbarium curation and herbarium management.
Facts and Figures
Here are some facts and figures pertaining to Plant Diversity:
The Philippines is the 23rd most plant species rich country in the world and the 7th in the Asian Region.
There are about 8,000 species of flowering plants in the Philippines One out of eight of these is an orchid and nine out of ten species of these can be found in our country.
The Philippines ranks 2nd among the 10 botanical hotspot areas in the tropics. Hotspots are areas with high species endemism and are experiencing rapid rates of habitat modification or loss.
The rate of forest conversion to other land uses is 3000 square kilometer per year.
The mangrove forest declines by 50 square kilometer per year.
Palawan has at least 1500 species of flowering plants. At least 225 species or 15% of it are endemic to the island.
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