Legarda urges Caraganons to help save Philippine Biodiversity

March 19, 2013

In her visit to Butuan City in the CARAGA Region, Senator Loren Legarda urged Caraganons to help alleviate the country’s state as a biodiversity and climate change vulnerability hotspot.

Legarda said that the country’s biodiversity, which has been degrading due to man’s development and economic activities, is also affected by climate change, that is likely to cause the loss of thousands of species as well as changes in natural ecosystems.

“As the ill effects of global warming, increased precipitation and extreme weather events adversely affect the high concentration of species found endemically in our country, we, who are dependent on these very plants and animals for livelihood and sustenance, are directly affected as well,” the Senator said.

Legarda noted that CARAGA Region is home to many islets, forests, rivers, and the famous Agusan Marsh.

“The Agusan Marsh, deemed as a Wetland of National Importance, hosts the widest expanse found in the Philippines of seven habitat types, including a very large area of swamp forest and peat swamp forest not found elsewhere in the country. The Marsh is a key habitat for crocodiles and water birds such as species of wild ducks, herons and egrets,” she said.

The Senator noted that not only the CARAGA Region but also the entire country is blessed with a rich biodiversity. In fact, the Philippines is one of the mega-biodiversity countries. However, it is also one the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, with a large number of species threatened by overexploitation, habitat loss, and pollution.

Furthermore, 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.

“We cannot sit idly as our fragile ecosystems are destroyed by unsustainable development practices. We must begin with addressing a more imminent issue – that of existing local and regional non-climate stresses our natural ecosystems are already facing. These stresses have more potential to be mitigated and managed than climate change,” she said.

“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 been more crucial than today. The challenge is for all of us to make our environment cleaner, greener and safer for future generations,” Legarda concluded.