Ridge to Reef Biodiversity Conservation
Ridge to Reef Biodiversity Conservation
4 Feb 2011
3 Feb 2013
Biodiversity Conservation and Development in the Philippines
Despite the importance of the Philippines’ coastal zone to the country’s national economy, it has not been sustainably managed and faces key challenges arising from habitat deforestation, inter-tidal reclamation, mangrove destruction, river damming, coral removal, destructive fishing methods, over-fishing, the discharge of land-based pollutants and unregulated logging. Over the last 30 years, 70% of mangroves and 20% of sea grasses have been destroyed, while nearly 90% of coral reefs are under threat. All of these factors have led to reduced productivity, diminished livelihoods, increased poverty incidence and a reduction in health quality in the communities that depend on these coastal resources.
Today, the biomass levels of coastal fish stocks throughout the Philippines are only 10-30% of those reported in the late 1940’s. There has also been a steady decline in production in recent years, in both coastal and offshore fishing areas, causing an alarming shortfall in the supply of aquatic products. Moreover, about 25-30% of the total catch is lost due to improper handling, inadequate storage facilities and inefficient marketing. The declining fish catch has been exacerbated by the deteriorating condition of marine habitats, with economic losses estimated at US$150 million per annum.
A multi-themed response
It is widely recognized, both locally and internationally, that a necessary pre-condition for the resolution of these problems is the introduction of Integrated Coastal Management (ICM). This management approach seeks to harmonize the roles of different national and local government agencies to comprehensively address key threats to coastal environments. The WorldFish Center in collaboration with local and international partners and with funding from USAID is implementing the ‘Ridge to Reef Biodiversity Conservation’ project in direct response to coastal managers seeking science-based information required to provide efficient and effective ICM.
The project has identified three key themes, which are supported by eight initiatives that together seek to address the problems outlined above. Geographically, the focal point of the project is Mt. Malindang and its environs, which have been identified as an extremely high priority conservation area under the National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan prepared by the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The first of these themes is seeking to reverse the degradation of coastal resources, by reducing the transfer of chemicals, nutrients and sediments from agriculture and forestry into coastal waters; rehabilitating fish habitats damaged and destroyed by these processes; and evaluating all the links in aquatic production systems so as to optimize the use of resources.
The second theme aims to enhance the livelihoods of coastal people, by determining the factors that underpin livelihoods; restoring the production of capture fisheries; and finding ways to create alternative and supplementary livelihoods.
The final theme is looking at capacity building and information/data base management and aims to develop a Biodiversity Information System to enable effective resource management, and also build capacity in biodiversity conservation and natural resources management.
Sustainable conservation and management of natural resources
The broader impact of these collaborative efforts is intended to be the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, through the improved capacity and long-term commitment of all stakeholders.
More specifically, the project will work towards:
- Finding new ways of managing forests and farms to reduce the loss of soil, nutrients and chemicals to the coastal zone, leading to the recovery of damaged fish habitats and improved productivity from coastal fisheries.
- A more equitable distribution of socio-economic benefits accruing from the use of coastal resources.
- A greater number of people deriving their livelihoods from more productive fisheries.
- Better access to animal protein for all Filipinos through an increased supply of fish.
- Improved livelihoods for indigenous people, communities, farmers and fisher folk.