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Coastal, Marine and Island Biodiversity: Overview PDF Print E-mail

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The CBD refers to coastal and marine environments as those that contain diverse habitats such as mangrove forests, coral reefs, sea grass beds, estuaries in coastal areas, and hydrothermal vents that support marine life such as marine fish and invertebrates.  Islands, on the other hand, are defined by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment as “lands isolated by surrounding water and with a high proportion of coast to hinterland”; however, there is no single accepted definition of islands.  Island biodiversity are known to be highly endemic and specialized with new characteristics and unusual adaptations that are shaped by evolutionary processes.


The Philippines is located within the coral triangle, at the center of the highest marine diversity.  Its vast, rich and diverse coastal and marine resources are composed of coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove and beach forests, fisheries, invertebrates, seaweeds, marine mammals and many others. Species diversity recorded by various authors indicate that there are 468 scleractinian corals, 1,755 reef-associated fishes, 648 species of mollusks, 19 species of seagrass and 820 species of algae (Fishbase 2008, BFAR-NFRDI-PAWB, 2005). Carpenter and Springer (2005) noted that there is a higher concentration of species per unit area in the Philippines than anywhere in Indonesia and Wallacea, that the Philippines is the center of the center of marine shore fish diversity in the world, and that there should be special focus on marine conservation efforts due to its being an epicenter of biodiversity and evolution.


In 2005, the state of marine and coastal environment was assessed using the following indicators: mangrove cover, percent of coral reefs in excellent condition, seagrass cover, and fisheries production from municipal waters. Findings indicate that mangrove cover is increasing, but coral reef cover, seagrass cover, and fisheries production are decreasing due to continuing pressures on these resources (PEM, 2005).


Threats to the state of this environment can be grouped into five major categories: chemical pollution and eutrophication, fisheries operations, habitat alteration, invasion of alien species, and global climate change. Primary threats are habitat alteration and loss due to destructive resource use, development activities and human population pressure. Specific threats include mining, logging, hazardous and solid waste disposal, pollution, land conversion for industrial, agriculture and urban development (CI, DENR-PAWB and Haribon, 2006), coastal erosion and storm surges associated with climate change.


In 2005, the Biodiversity Indicators for National Use (BINU) for the coastal and marine ecosystem was developed by the DA-BFAR and the DENR-PAWB to respond to the actual needs of planning and decision-making at the national level, particularly in relation to coastal and marine issues.  In developing the indicators, the BINU team examined the status, pressures and responses to biodiversity loss using recent scientific researches and monitoring results prepared and reviewed by scientific institutions, experts and data providers.  The BINU included similar indicators that were used in the PEM 2004 to assess progress of efforts on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and to monitor and report biodiversity status and trends at the national level.  These include commercially important fish and invertebrates (pelagic fish, demersal fish, invertebrates), habitats (coral reef, mangrove, seagrass, seaweed), and endangered species (Irrawaddy dolphin, marine turtle, and whale shark).


BFAR-NFRDI-PAWB (2005) reports a declining trend in the state of most coastal and marine ecosystems in the Philippines due to such factors as overfishing, destructive and illegal fishing activities, increase in population and human settlements near coastal areas, infrastructure development and pollution. However, the same report highlights the lack of comprehensive and historical data to better understand the state of this ecosystem.


In assessing progress made between 2005 and 2008, this Report builds on the biodiversity indicators identified in the BINU Report, and in particular coral reef cover, fisheries production, mangrove cover, and other indicators for which historical data are available.