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. A mere three percent is estimated to remain in the lowland regions. About 14 percent of the original vegetation remains as secondary growth in various stages of degradation; these areas would probably be capable of regeneration if they are not disturbed further.
The Philippines has a population of 80 million people with livelihoods highly dependent on natural resources. Severe rural poverty and a high population growth rate (2.2 percent) and density (273 people per km²) have put enormous pressure on the remaining forests. Widespread use of timber became common 500 years ago, when the Spanish began using trees for the construction of their fleet. As late as 1945, two-thirds of the country was still covered by old-growth forest. However, in the following decades, logging rates accelerated rapidly. Between 1969 and 1988, 2,000 km² were logged annually, three times the global rate for tropical forest conversion. Although there has been a decline in logging activities due to the state of its forests and the increasing awareness among the communities, illegal logging activities still persist in the countries remaining forests as witnessed in the December 2004 landslides.
Other imminent threats to Philippine forests include mining and land conversion. In 1997, regions where mining activities took place covered one-quarter of the country and included more than half of the remaining primary forest. The country’s development objectives, which include road network development, irrigation, power and energy projects, and planned ports and harbors, still need to be harmonized with biodiversity conservation goals.
Introductions of exotic species have also taken a toll, particularly in wetlands. The following groups have had a particularly negative impact on wetland biodiversity: fish such as the giant catfish and black bass; toads and frogs, including the marine toad (Bufo marinus), the American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) and leopard frog (Rana tigrina); and aquatic plants like the water hyacinth and water fern.