We secure livelihoods and food security for Filipinos© CI/Aya Uraguchi
We work to increase coastal resilience against storms© CI/Lynn Tang
We work with national and local governments to establish and manage protected areas© Dudarev Mikhail
We protect unique biodiversity together with local communities© Olivier Langrand
Encompassing over 7,000 islands, the Philippines’ large landscapes and long coastlines hold some of the world’s richest terrestrial, coastal and marine environments.
It is also one of the world’s 17 mega-biodiverse countries, featuring more than 20,000 species of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.
These natural resources, which stretch 2.2 million square kilometres (849,425 square miles), are of critical importance. They provide food, fresh water, livelihoods and climate resilience to more than 100 million Filipinos. In fact, it is estimated that biodiversity contributes around 5% of the Philippines' gross domestic product and supports livelihoods for nearly 15% of the country’s labor force.
The forests and oceans of the Philippines sequester vast amounts of carbon — playing a significant role in the global solution to climate change. Regionally, the Philippines is a part of the Coral Triangle, a transboundary seascape which more than 130 million people from five nations rely upon.
In recent times, accelerating development has led to increasing pressures on nature. Population growth, weak land use planning, industrialization and unsustainable land and sea use have taken a toll on its natural resources, while erratic storms have ravaged its coasts.
There is still time. We must work together to protect nature for Filipinos and the world.
Conservation International Philippines has worked with the government and local communities to value and protect healthy ecosystems since 1995. Through science, policy and fieldwork, we aim to protect nature, and provide innovative solutions to key environmental issues – such as the loss of mangroves, deforestation, climate change, unsustainable fishing and the illegal wildlife trade.
We work both on land and sea — from the magnificent mountain range of Mount Mantalingahan in Palawan to the productive Sulu-Sulawesi Seascape — to safeguard the well-being of all Filipinos for generations ahead.
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What are the issues?
It is estimated that more than half of the Philippines’ old-growth forests have been lost to agriculture, slash-and-burn farming, forest fires and illegal logging. Compounded by a growing rural population and poor land management, deforestation poses a serious threat to agriculture, livelihoods and ecosystem functions such as fresh water and erosion prevention.
Mangrove cover in the Philippines has declined by 43% between 1918 and 2000 due to coastal development, conversion for aquaculture and clearing for firewood. This loss has left coastal communities vulnerable, as mangroves act as both storm buffers and nurseries for fish.
According to the United Nations, the Philippines ranks as the third nation most at risk from the effects of climate change. As climate change intensifies, storm surges will become increasingly unpredictable — illustrated to the world when more than 6,000 lives and 900,000 homes were lost in 2013 to Typhoon Yolanda (also known as Typhoon Haiyan). Shifting rainfall patterns and rising average temperatures are predicted to affect the livelihoods and food security of farmers and fishers, and some coastal communities may lose their homes to sea-level rise.
The Philippines is a source of wildlife and wildlife products, and a transit point for trafficking — which is on the rise. Driven by both national and international trade, the loss of certain crucial species is already altering the natural balance of ecosystems, reducing their productivity for those livelihoods that depend upon them — drawing more and more Filipinos into the criminal world.
Conservation International is working with the government and local communities in the Philippines to protect the country’s natural assets — forests, mangroves and seas — for the long-term benefit of generations of Filipinos and people around the world.
© CI/photo by Lynn Tang
© Nandini Narayanan
© CI/photo by Sterling Zumbrunn
© CI/Yoji Natori
© Keith A. Ellenbogen
© USAID Philippines