Perhaps even more so than its Asian neighbors, the Philippines suffers from intense deforestation and degradation of marine areas. Conservationists have labeled the Philippines as the hottest of the threatened hotspots. Very little of what's left of its natural vegetation is considered healthy. If its landscapes and seascapes deteriorate as rapidly as they have in recent times, this leading mega-diversity country has a lot to lose.
Recent advances in conservation have softened the blow of environmental damage, but not halted the destruction. Nearly 95% percent of the country's forests have already been cut down. However, in the current biofuel boom, people continue to clear more rain forests and then mine the subsoil for valuable timber and oil palm, leaving ravaged landscapes in their wake.
Dubbed the timber and mining corridor of the Philippines, Eastern Mindanao is a perfect example. The government has issued about 200 permits to mining companies, allowing them to conduct operations or explorations in protected areas and watershed forest reserves. In turn, industrial waste and mine tailings are winding up in rivers, causing severe water pollution. Loggers that still have permits and those operating illegally due to weak regulations continue to chop down Eastern Mindanao's dwindling rain forests, which leads to soil erosion and river sedimentation. Such threats loom across the country, as plans to further develop roads, irrigation, and energy projects play out.
Equally harmful activities plague the oceans. Fish are extracted from Filipino waters quicker than they can reproduce. Although citizens are responsible for much of this today, foreign, and particularly Chinese, fishing fleets are becoming increasingly active in the area. In wetlands, non-native species have taken a toll on fish, such as the giant catfish and black bass, as well as toads, frogs, and aquatic plants.