Press Release
July 2, 2011

Legarda: PHL has a Hundred More Reasons
to Intensify Biodiversity Conservation

Senator Loren Legarda today said that there are a hundred more reasons for Filipinos to strengthen efforts in conserving Philippine biodiversity with the discovery of more than one hundred new species in the country's rainforests and seas.

Legarda noted that a team of scientists, researchers and biodiversity conservationists from the University of the Philippines and the California Academy of Sciences, led by Dr. Perry Ong and Dr. Terry Gosliner, conducted the 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition from April to June.

The team scoured Anilao, the Verde Island Passage and Lubang Island off the coast of Batangas, and the forests and mountaintops of Mts. Makiling, Banahaw, and Isarog to discover at least a hundred new species endemic to the country including a shark that inflates with water to scare off other predators, a cicada that produces a laughing sound, and a sea star that feeds on wood.

"The Philippines has already been hailed as the World's Center of Marine Biodiversity - the epicentre of biodiversity and evolution, and this expedition once again proves the unique biodiversity that our country is greatly blessed with. It is, however, sad to note that these precious resources are deeply threatened by the irresponsible acts of man," the Senator pointed out.

"The increasing loss of biodiversity is being attributed to development activities and land degradation, especially overgrazing and deforestation, as well as pollution, overfishing, hunting, infrastructure development, species invasion, land-use change, and the overuse of freshwater," she lamented.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and a staunch environmentalist, also expressed alarm over the probable effects of the changing climate to the country's biodiversity.

She explained that among the projected impacts of climate change is the loss of thousands of species as well as changes in natural ecosystems. The rise in average global temperatures will render many species unable to adapt quickly enough to these new conditions or to move to regions more suitable for their survival.

"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 as humans who are dependent on the very plants and animals that make up our natural ecosystems for livelihood and sustenance are directly affected as well," she said.

"The decline of our ecosystems has been found as one of the underlying drivers of disaster risks and poverty, in the context of climate change. Therefore, protecting ecosystems - which involves rehabilitating our forests, cleaning our rivers, and stopping pollution, among other actions, need to be done as soon as today," Legarda stressed.

Legarda has already proposed several measures aimed at strengthening climate adaptation mechanisms and conserving biodiversity such as the Sustainable Forest Management Act (Senate Bill 1353), the Integrated Coastal Management Act (Senate Bill 1370), and the National Land Use Act (Senate Bill 1369).

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