CORDILLERA ECOLOGICAL CENTER/PINE TREE ENVIRONMENTAL VOLUNTEERS
CORDILLERA ECOLOGICAL CENTER/PINE TREE ENVIRONMENTAL VOLUNTEERS
Birds Die In Paradise
By MICHAEL A. BENGWAYAN
Mount Pulag, Kabayan, Benguet, Philippines — For countless years, this 9,609 feet peak, the second highest in the country, is haven for thousands of migratory birds fleeing the freezing temperature in northeast China and Japan from September to February.
It is also the graveyard for many of the birds that are killed for food and additional income.
Fighting sleep and the wind’s cruel whip on the cold night of the November 5th, I trekked with a bunch of bird hunters from the Kalanguya indigenous tribe to the mountain’s western face. There, I witnessed a very cruel way for birds to die.
Unmindful of gusts and frost at 4 degrees Centigrade, the bird hunters stretched a black fine nylon net some 50 meters long and 20 feet high. About a hundred yards away, they lit a bonfire from pine branches and dead logs and settled to wait for the night.
Before cock’s crow the waiting was over. The stillness was pierced by unimaginable sound and noise. There was a flurry of movement and scattered vague black shadows.
In less than a minute, there were thudding collisions and poultry-like crackling mixed with the men’s shouts.
Under the glaring woodfire, perhaps thousands of birds, attracted by the light rushed towards what they mistakenly saw as daylight, only to crash headlong into the waiting net. The helpless birds wriggled in the mesh, struggling for freedom.
Their weight caused the poles of the net to collapse, bringing down all the ensnared prey. In a flash, the untrapped school of birds swooped by and flew in all directions—safe but shocked by the near misfortune they have just escaped from.
The young men pounced on the defenseless birds with sticks, dealing blows on some birds’ heads while wringing them away from the net. Many struggled to escape, only to die. Others strangled themselves in the net.
An hour or so, the young men hauled off their catch, some alive, most dying and dead. The legs of the birds were lashed together with vines. As many fifty birds were tied together and hanged on both sides of a bamboo poles. The fifteen men carried one bamboo pole each on their shoulders and clutched another five to ten birds their hands. The captured birds shuddered and died, others sent off death wails and chirps as they awaited death.
The smaller birds were not taken. They were left to die in the cold.
“Mangkik” or “Ikik”, Igorot Traditional Bird Hunt
This is “mangkik”, a traditional bird hunt of the northern indigenous peoples of the Philippines collectively called the Igorots. To an ordinary watcher, it is a massacre. It is not a sight for those quick to succumb to emotions.
Walking back with the group, down the craggy mountain trail, I strained to stop a teardrop, my throat seemed dry I could not utter a word. I struggled to understand the ways of the wild, of the strong and the weak, of predators and preys and why man has to occupy the highest rung in the food chain. Yet, my own blood runs deep indigenous red from Igorot headhunting warriors of yore. I kept mum.
All around the world, this manner of bird hunting happens. Environmentalists speak against this form of bird catching saying many bird species are becoming extinct.
According to the Canadian National Science Foundation and the Natural Sciences (CNSF-NS), the basic reason for migration of birds worldwide is to search for food and to seek safe places to breed. All kinds of birds migrate. The birds that were captured on this peak followed the East Asian Migratory Flyway that includes the Philippines which is one of the most important shorebird and waterbird migratory flyways in the world because some 77 bird species travel the said route.
When birds band together to search for food, the group is more likely to find a new patch of food than is one lone individual. Flocking can be an alternative way to deal with food shortages, CNSF-NS said.
It also makes the birds vulnerable to bird catchers. Millions are killed and captured from Africa, Europe, South America and in Asia. Mostly are used as food but many are sold to zoos, restaurants, petshops and laboratories.
Adverse Effect on Ecosystems
Skirting poverty, more and more local peoples are involved in massive migratory bird hunting every year. Kabayan Mayor Faustino Aquisan said the birds trapped by mountain dwellers do not only mean food on the table but can be sold and traded for other household needs.
“Birds are delicious delicacy and they fetch good prices in the public market because it is not every day that one gets to buy these kind of food. Many locals also believe that birds have medicinal values”, he said.
While it is understandable that indigenous peoples trap birds in the said manner for food and income especially on these trying times, it is also sad because they are unaware that the disappearance of many birds adversely affects the ecosystem” Regional Executive Director Samuel Penafiel of the government’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) told IOL.
“Not only are many bird species threatened to extinction but several plants that are naturally propagated by bird droppings and are important in maintaining vegetation die”, he said
According to the Department of Zoology, University of Bergen, of Norway, not only do bird sow seeds but that seeds that pass through guts of birds ensure high seedlings germination and growth. This is true with the bird thrush (Turdus spp) which ensure the propagation of the tree Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia L)
Prof. Bony Ligat of the Entomology Department of the Benguet State University said migratory birds are responsible in controlling much of insect pests threatening agriculture.
“Birds keep the world safe from insect plagues, something chemical insecticides cannot do. Most birds are technologically advanced, highly motivated, extremely efficient and cost-effective insect-pest controllers”, he said.
Government’s Action and Inaction
But while birds keep the ecosystem safe, not much is being done to protect them from the cruel traditional bird hunting tradition. Hunters and government wildlife service people alike are taking the flak from environmentalist who say that nothing is being done to protect the birds.
Indeed, Director Penafiel said that even DENR’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) whom he used to head, has yet to come out with a directive or administrative order that can regulate, limit or police the actions of migratory bird hunters.
For the moment, the Philippines is not a signatory of the 1979 Bonn Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and thus do not possess the guidelines needed to carry out protective and preventive measures for migratory birds and other animals
Even as there is a global World Migratory Bird Day which is held every May 9 to 10, it is not celebrated by the government. The special day focuses on man-made obstacles to bird migration, such as destructive bird hunting and wants to raise awareness of the difficult and often underestimated situation faced by migratory birds on their travels.
Migratory Rare Birds, Flying, Going, Gone
According to the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of DENR, there are a total of 76 bird species recorded in Mt. Pulag National Park. This figure includes 14 migratory visitors and one or two introduced species. Of the recorded bird species, 30 are endemic to the Philippines and nine (9) are endemic to Luzon. Fourteen species have a global distribution of less than 50,000 sq. km (restricted-range species). Mt. Pulag is host to twenty-four percent of the total resident breeding bird species in the Luzon Island and thirty-two percent of the total Philippine endemics. Eight species of birds are listed as threatened and are facing threats due to habitat loss.
These are the flame breasted fruit dove, Luzon racquet-tailed parrot, Luzon scoops owl, Philippine eagle owl, whiskered pitta, Philippine water redstart, white-browed jungle flycatcher, and the chestnut-faced babbler.
However, these are not the only migrating birds captured through this mountain. Conservation International (CI) recently listed those endangered migratory birds captured by hunters and recorded by scientists as follows: the Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes), the Little Egret; Sandpipers- Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica), the Common Red Shank (Tringa totanus), and the Rufous-necked stint (Calidris ruficollis). Long-billed and long-legged, these shorebirds move about mudflats, their heads down, to feed; Terns – the Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) and the Little Tern (S. albifrons) , and; Black-bellied plover (Pluvalis squatarola
Besides these are more common birds like kingfishers, ardeids, quails, thrushes, warblers, wagtails and shrikes.
Bird Hunters Cry Foul
The pressure by environmentalists for the government to clamp down on migratory bird hunting has brought out mixed reactions from bird hunters. Local tribal leader Sagyo Dokok of the Kalanguya tribe says the practice is older than anyone can recall and it is unfair to prevent it.
He also believes the birds are brought to them every year as a gift from the God or the spirits to sustain part of their food needs.
George Facsoy of the Sadanga tribe says coming out with laws to stop or limit tribes people from migratory bird hunting will only be as good as the paper the law will be written on. “The government has so many laws to conserve the biodiversity but what has it implemented? Wildlife habitats continue to die due to logging and mining”, he sneered.
If and when the Philippine government will recognize the problem and issue a law against “mangkik”, one thing is certain. It will be long in coming. With a limping economy and rising unemployment and poverty figures, it is unlikely to take up the case of the birds when it has nothing to feed to its burgeoning population./30
Vegetable Truck driver Andrew Nudong of Baguio City always looked forward to being with his wife on weekends after every week of driving. He was not successful one day when he came home to hear his young daughter say “Mom went home to the province because she hates your snoring”.
Indeed, snoring can be alarming.
In a research to determine if a harmless snore can end a marriage, she and her team discovered that wives’ sleeps are indeed deprived due to husbands’ noisy snores
“This is a frequent problem within marriages that nobody is paying enough attention to. Couples who struggle with sleep apnea have a high-divorce rate. Because snoring puts a strain on the marriage and creates a hostile and tense situation.” said Dr. Cartwright.
You can be killed too for snoring. John Wesley Hardin, a noted American gunfighter in the West is known to have killed 30 to 40 men, some, because they snored.
Isn’t it disturbing that for such a common affliction that can cause social problems and possible crime, there is surprisingly little medical advice.
Snorers number in millions or maybe billions. And billions more are forced to listen to them. Dr. John W. Shepard Jr., M.D., professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota said a study of a cross-section of Americans ages 30 to 60 found that 45 percent of the men and 25 percent of the women snore.
“When the doors are closed, the lights are out and a man and a woman are in bed together, then, there is a 70 percent chance someone is snoring. After age 60 the figure is even higher, especially among women”, Dr. Shepard said.
Why do they snore? A thorough technical definition by the British Family Health Encyclopedia says it is due to “noisy breathing through the open mouth during sleep produced by vibrations of the soft palate”.
Quite technical. To appease the common man, look inside a throat. See those assorted loose things down there? Well, when you’re sleeping nice and relaxed, they get even looser. And when one breaths through his mouth, they vibrate. Vibration, as all clarinets and kazoo players know, make noise.
Occasionally, a loose cartilage in the nose is the culprit. But generally, you can blame the throat. As those inside the throat lose its tone as people age, they vibrate even more and older people snore even more.
Snoring is associated with deep relaxation but anxiety also can cause snores. Snoring,” Shepard says, “is one of the most significant sleep disorders, affecting health and quality of life.”
As science links heavy snoring to serious medical conditions such as heart disease and stroke, new and improved procedures are helping combat the problem. “If you snore and someone has complained about it, see a doctor,” says Carl Hunt, M.D., director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research in Bethesda, Md. “Chronic snoring is by no means routine.”
Some doctors say that smoking, drinking, heavy eating, obesity, too much salt, colds, allergies, shaky false teeths, enlarged adenoids or tonsils, and various internal deformities contribute to snoring or what the medical world call stertor.
Being fat is most likely a condition that aggravates snoring. Extra weight can mean extra noise. “Fat accumulates in the soft tissue of the throat, and the airway narrows, making it harder to breathe,” says sleep specialist David N. F. Fairbanks, M.D., a professor at George Washington University in Washington.
But there has never been solid medical evidence that snoring indeed endangers the sleeper’s life
Is plain snoring similar to what doctors call sleep apnea? Many experts say no. In sleep apnea the airway is so blocked that breathing stops for seconds at a time, hundreds of times a night. “The heart is forced to pump harder to get oxygen, so there is real stress to the whole cardiovascular system—every night,” says Norman Schubert, program manager of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorder Center in Baltimore.
People with the disorder are exhausted during the day. Some struggle with memory problems, weight gain, impotency or headaches. Half have high blood pressure and at least three times as much risk for stroke as those without sleep apnea.
Other people can snore and do not go through the conditons of sleep apnea, many doctors say. Apnea sleepers have to wake up to breath. The sleeper sleeps for a minute or so holding his breath, then wakes long enough to grab some air, then catches some more seconds to sleep. And on through the night without knowing it.
People with this problem frequently snore explosively and erratically as they take in air—which helps tip the investigating doctor. Another symptom that hints at Apnea is chronic tiredness during the day, not surprising since the apnea sufferer is sleeping only part time. You suffer from sleep deprivation—which can do things to your mind. And that kind of strange, on and off breathing can lead to high blood pressures and heart troubles.
Shepard estimates that fewer than 10 percent of the 18 million Americans with sleep apnea have been treated. Dave Hargett of Bolingbrook, Ill., is one who did get help. “My whole adult life people told me I was an incredibly loud snorer,” he says. “But I just shrugged it off. I didn’t get help until my wife was sleeping in the living room and I was falling asleep at work.” After he was treated, “I got my life back,” says Hargett, now the American Sleep Apnea Association’s board chairman.
If snorers are told that they snore, most deny it. “The denial rate among snorers is spectacular,” says Helene Emsellem, M.D., medical director of the Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Md.
Doctors used to treat severe cases of snoring by amputating the uvula or by injecting a hardening agent on the soft palate. But those didn’t work well. Some blockages in the airway require surgery, but there are less radical procedures. Recently, for example, the Food and Drug Administration approved a 10-minute procedure—done with local anesthesia—to implant a tiny polyester device that stiffens the soft palate, thus reducing the vibrations that cause snoring.
Through the years hundreds of antisnoring devices have been fashioned. Many have been patented and found their way to the market. Many are thought of to be strange.Three recommendations used years ago even in ancient China are found to be very effective even today.
It includes clenching a pencil in between your teeth for 10 minutes before you sleep ; pressing a few fingers against your jaw, forcing it to press back and pressing your tongue firmly against the lower teeth, and; practice saying “Ahhh” but without sound three to four minutes before you sleep.
If the above-mentioned don’t work, then the non-snorer should be ready to: go to sleep first, drug himself/herself into a deep sleep, try ear plugs, sleep in separate room, or get used to it.
If all don’t work, better be ready when your spouse says good bye./Michael A. Bengwayan/30
Three Endangered Animals Discovered in the Philippines
By MICHAEL A. BENGWAYAN
Baguio City, Philippines — Three new animals, two of which are new discoveries and one a rediscovered species after more than a hundred years, have been made in the Philippines
The two discoveries — a parrot and a mouse – live only on a small island in the country called Camiguin, a very small island known more for its sweet mangoes and currently threatened to destruction by eco-tourism.
The scientific name for the new parrot species is Loriculus camiguinensis, and now commonly called Camiguin Hanging-parrot, based on previously unstudied specimens in The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and the Delaware Museum of Natural History collected in the 1960’s by D. S. Rabor.
The mouse, locally called Philippine forest mouse, is scientifically identified as Apomys camiguinensis.
The third species which was last seen in the now devastated Mount Data between Benguet and Mountain Province some 112 years ago by British biologist John Whitehead, is a dwarf cloud rat scientifically named Carpomys malanurus. It was captured by scientists in Mount Pulag, a mossy rainforest facing destruction due to farming, some eight hours away from this city.
The hanging parrot and forest mouse discovery was bared by the April 5 issue of Fieldiana: Zoology, a peer-reviewed, scientific journal about biodiversity research published by The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
The rediscovery of the dwarf cloud rat was made by no less than Field Museum’s Dr. Lawrence Heaney and Danilo Balete, research associate of the Philippine National Museum who went to Mount Pulag in search for the rat .
The discoveries once again put the Philippines in the global biology map. Only this time — for increased hope that some rare species still thrive — because in the past, most of the news have been more of vanishing species, making the country known as one of the most critical “bio-hotspots in the world” as proclaimed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The hanging-parrot, locally called Colasisi, has bright green feathers covering most of the body. The throat and thighs are bright blue, and the top of the head and tail are brilliant scarlet-orange. Males and females have identical plumage, which is quite unusual in this group of parrots.
The description was provided by John Bates, Curator of Birds and Chair of Zoology at The Field Museum, and a co-author of one of the Fieldiana reports and from previously unstudied specimens in The Field Museum and the Delaware Museum of Natural History collected in the 1960’s by D. S. Rabor.
Bates said the series of specimens collected from Camiguin and additional series of Hanging-parrots from other Philippine Islands, provided the distinction needed in the identification.
One of L. camiguinensis’ characteristics that was key to identifying it as a new species is the fact that its plumage is relatively dull compared to other Philippine Hanging-parrots.
Because L. camiguinensis has not been recognized as a separate species, little is known about its habits, and it has been overlooked in terms of conservation. The discovery will now spur more efforts to establish the population size and requirements as a prerequisite for conservation planning and action, he added.
The Philippine forest mouse has large ears and eyes, a long tail and rusty-brown fur, and it feeds mostly on insects and seeds. The description is based on mice captured on Camiguin during a biological survey by Dr. Heaney and Blas Tabaranza Jr., Director of the Terrestrial Ecosystems Project of the Haribon Foundation, a Philippine conservation NGO based in Manila, on the steep slopes of one of the island’s volcanoes.
Local people had not previously known of the mouse, though they have known of the parrot because of its value in the pet trade. In 2002, Heaney, Tabaranza, and Eric Rickart, of the Utah Museum of Natural History, described a different species of forest-living rodent, Bullimus gamay, from Mt. Timpoong, the same mountain where the new mouse was collected. A frog (Oreophryne nana) named in 1967 had been thought to be the only vertebrate restricted to the island prior to the surveys by Heaney and Tabaranza.
The dwarf cloud rat, which unfortunately died during captivity just this month, has soft reddish-brown fur with a black mask around its black eyes, has small rounded ears, a broad and blunt snout and long tail covered with dark hair.
It is about 8 to ten inches long, less the tail and weighs no more than half a pound. It stays on mossy trees and feed on insects at night.
This dwarf cloud rat was sighted nowhere in the Philippines except in this province, lurking at elevations of 2,000 to 2,500 m montane and mossy forests.
All three discovered and rediscovered species are creeping slowly deep into the mossy forest jungles until they will find no place to run and no place to hide, Heany lamented.
Many of the animal species in the country are going the way of the dodo, the giant bird which was made extinct in the late 18th century in the island of Madagascar.
The country’s once lush forests are fast being depleted leaving only about less than 600,00 hectares of virgin forests out of the 25 million hectares in the early 1930s.
Indiscriminate logging, expansion of vegetable farms, mining and corrupt and graft-laden forestry policies are to blame
The Philippines has seven endemic critically endangered species identified by IUCN as the Ilin Island Cloud Rat (Crateromys paulus), the Mt. Isarog Striped Rat (Chrotomys gonzalesi), the Northern Luzon Shrew Rat (Crunomys fallax), the Philippines Tube-nosed Fruit Bat (Nyctimeme rabori), the Negros Shrew (Crocidura negrina), the Tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis) and the Visayan Warty Pig (Sus cebifrons).
Its endangered species are Calamian Deer (Axis calamianensis), Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat (Crateromys australis), Dinagat Moonrat (Podogymnura aureospinula). Golden-capped Fruit Bat (Acerodon jubatus), Mindanao Gymnure (Podogymnura truei), Mindoro Shrew (Crocidura mindorus), Mt. Isarog Shrew-mouse (Archboldomys luzonensis), Mt. Malindang Shrew (Crocidura grandis), Northern Palawan Tree Squirrel (Sundasciurus juvencus), Palawan Soft-furred Mountain Rat (Palawanomys furvus), Panay bushy-tailed cloud rat ( Panay cloud runner) (Crateromys heaneyi), Visayan Spotted Deer (Cervus alfredi), and the White-winged Flying Fox (Pteropus leucopterus).
Thirty other species are vulnerable to extinction and 49 species are threatened out of the 153 animal species in the country, the IUCN Red List said.
Dr. Heany called on the Philippine government to give more teeth to its conservation program, which at its best, is lagging far behind its ASEAN counterparts./MICHAEL A. BENGWAYAN
A Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for the Cordillera Region, Philippines
Director, PINE TREE – Cordillera Ecological Educational Training, Research and Information Center
237 Longlong, Puguis, La Trinidad, Benguet 2601, Philippines
The term biological diversity is a comparatively new one and as such is not as yet widely known. In brief, the term refers to the variety of all life on earth, plants animals and micro-organisms, the genes they contain and the ecosystems they form. Biodiversity is not a static concept but recognises the inter-relatedness of all parts of the biological world. It is often considered at three levels: diversity of species – the diversity of all plants and animals, including fungi and micro-organisms; genetic diversity – the variety of genetic material within species; and ecosystems diversity – the variety of ecosystems (e.g. mountain forests, steppe or savannah, deserts etc.). Together these three form the components of biodiversity.
Biodiversity is a source of significant economic, aesthetic, health and cultural benefits which form the foundation for sustainable development. However, there is general scientific consensus that the world is rapidly becoming less biologically diverse in terms of genes, species and ecosystems. The reason for this is clearly anthropogenic. The scale of human impacts on biological diversity has been increasing exponentially primarily because of world-wide patterns of consumption, production, trade; agricultural, industrial and settlements development; and human population growth.
Neither the economic nor the ecosystem value of biodiversity is as yet well understood. In particular, there is insufficient knowledge of the interdependence of species within ecosystems and the impact of the extinction of one species on others. As the world enters the 21st century, reducing the rate of biodiversity loss and conserving still existing biodiversity as the basis of sustainable development remain major global challenges.
2. Biodiversity Importance in the Cordillera
Biological diversity is a vital resource for human beings, both for the global community, for each nation and more so for communities. It is at the heart of economic productivity and livelihood today and its conservation and rational use are an absolute necessity to achieve sustainable development. In addition, its protection and maintenance is an insurance policy for future generations – even forms of life that may appear to provide no human benefit now may become important as conditions change over the coming centuries.
From both wild and domesticated components of biodiversity, humanity derives all of its food and many of its medicines and industrial products. Economic benefits from wild species alone make up an estimated 4.5% of GDP of industrialised countries such as the USA. For less developed countries this proportion can be much higher. The current commercial value of domesticated plant and animal species is even greater – for example in Philippine agricultural production accounts for up to 15 % of GDP. Many benefits, particularly in less developed countries, may not be well represented in purely economic terms but are nonetheless critical for peoples livelihoods. For example, in the uplands of the Philippines three out of four people look to wildlife for most of their protein and for almost 80% of people in developing countries traditional medicines from the wild form the basis of primary health care. Even in modern pharmaceuticals, around one-fourth of prescriptions contain active ingredients extracted from plants and this probably represents only a small proportion of potentially useful substances not yet discovered.
Biological diversity in its totality forms the living biosphere in which human beings, along with all other species, inhabit and depend upon for their survival. In the remote past, human actions were trivial when set against the dominant processes of nature. This is no longer true and as the human race approaches the close of the 21st Century it is clear from threats of climate change, desertification, land degradation, etc., that at both a national and global level we are using up and destroying the very basis of our future survival.
To the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera, biodiversity is as important as land and water. Yet, it is sad that while many advocates of indigenous rights clamor for land and water source ownership, many indigenous peoples themselves are now part of those who are destroying biodiversity. The old traditional systems that used to protect biodiversity is being lost and it may not be long before these are totally forgotten.
3. The Biodiversity Convention and the Philippines
In the past, biodiversity protection was not a significant concern in the development programmes of most countries. In recent years, however, that has begun to change as a widening understanding and appreciation of the problems faced in the world and importance of biodiversity in that context has developed. Today, the protection of biological diversity has become a recognised priority on the global agenda and thus also within the development goals and plans of nations.
A key step in this direction is the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was signed at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Earth Summit) by 156 countries. It entered into force as international law in 1993 and by the end of 1995, nearly 120 nations had ratified the convention, including Philippines. The central objectives of the convention are:
The convention requires governments to take action to ensure that their management and development of natural resources is consistant with the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity. This involves assessing national economic structures and policies to determine how to build economic arrangements which promote conservation and sustainable use. In addition the Convention stipulates that the Parties to the Convention – i.e. those countries whose legislative bodies have agreed to be bound by the treaty – must take a number of actions, including:
BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY IN THE PHILIPPINES
The world’s second largest archipelago country after Indonesia, the Philippines includes more than 7,100 islands covering 297,179 km2 in the westernmost Pacific Ocean. The Philippines lies north of Indonesia and directly east of Vietnam. The country is one of the few nations that is, in its entirety, both a hotspot and a megadiversity country, placing it among the top priority hotspots for global conservation
The archipelago is formed from a series of isolated fragments that have long and complex geological histories, some dating back 30-50 million years. With at least 17 active volcanoes, these islands are part of the “Ring of Fire” of the Pacific Basin. The archipelago stretches over 1,810 kilometers from north to south. Northern Luzon is only 240 kilometers from Taiwan (with which it shares some floristic affinities), and the islands off southwestern Palawan are only 40 kilometers from Malaysian Borneo. The island of Palawan, which is separated from Borneo by a channel some 145 meters deep, has floristic affinities with both the Philippines and Borneo in the Sundaland Hotspot, and strong faunal affinities with the Sunda Shelf.
Hundreds of years ago, most of the Philippine islands were covered in rain forest. The bulk of the country was blanketed by lowland rainforests dominated by towering dipterocarps (Dipterocarpaceae), prized for their beautiful and straight hardwood. At higher elevations, the lowland forests are replaced by montane and mossy forests that consist mostly of smaller trees and vegetation. Small regions of seasonal forest, mixed forest and savanna, and pine-dominated cloud forest covered the remaining land area.
Unique and Threatened Biodiversity
The patchwork of isolated islands, the tropical location of the country, and the once extensive areas of rainforest have resulted in high species diversity in some groups of organisms and a very high level of endemism. There are five major and at least five minor centers of endemism, ranging in size from Luzon, the largest island (103,000 km2), which, for example, has at least 31 endemic species of mammals, to tiny Camiguin Island (265 km2) speck of land north of Mindanao, which has at least two species of endemic mammals. The Philippines has among the highest rates of discovery in the world with sixteen new species of mammals discovered in the last ten years. Because of this, the rate of endemism for the Philippines has risen and likely will continue to rise.
At the very least, one-third of the more than 9,250 vascular plant species native to the Philippines are endemic. Plant endemism in the hotspot is mostly concentrated at the species level; there are no endemic plant families and 26 endemic genera. Gingers, begonias, gesneriads, orchids, pandans, palms, and dipterocarps are particularly high in endemic species. For example, there are more than 150 species of palms in the hotspot, and around two-thirds of these are found nowhere else in the world. Of the 1,000 species of orchids found in the Philippines, 70 percent are restricted to the hotspot.
The broad lowland and hill rain forests of the Philippines, which are mostly gone today, were dominated by at least 45 species of dipterocarps. These massive trees were the primary canopy trees from sea level to 1,000 meters. Other important tree species here include giant figs (Ficus spp.), which provide food for fruit bats, parrots, and monkeys, and Pterocarpus indicus, like the dipterocarps, is valued for its timber.
There are over 530 bird species found in the Philippines hotspot; about 185 of these are endemic (35 percent) and over 60 are threatened. BirdLife International has identified seven Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs in this hotspot: Mindoro, Luzon, Negros and Panay, Cebu, Mindanao and the Eastern Visayas, the Sulu archipelago, and Palawan. Like other taxa, birds exhibit a strong pattern of regional endemism. Each EBA supports a selection of birds not found elsewhere in the hotspot. The hotspot also has a single endemic bird family, the Rhabdornithidae, represented by the Philippine creepers (Rhabdornis spp.). In May 2004, a possibly new species of rail Gallirallus was observed on Calayan island in the Babuyan islands, northern Philippines. It is apparently most closely related to the Okinawa rail (Gallirallus okinawae) from the Ryukyu islands, Japan.
Perhaps the best-known bird species in the Philippines is the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi, CR), the second-largest eagle in the world. The Philippine eagle breeds only in primary lowland rain forest. Habitat destruction has extirpated the eagle everywhere except on the islands of Luzon, Mindanao and Samar, where the only large tracts of lowland rain forest remain. Today, the total population is estimated at less than 700 individuals. Captive breeding programs have been largely unsuccessful; habitat protection is the eagle’s only hope for survival.
Among the hotspots other threatened endemic species are the Negros bleeding art (Gallicolumba keayi, CR), Visayan wrinkled hornbill (Aceros waldeni, CR), Scarlet-collared flowerpecker (Dicaeum retrocinctum, VU), Cebu flowerpecker (Dicaeum quadricolor, CR), and Philippine cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia, CR).
At least 165 mammal species are found in the Philippine hotspot, and over 100 of these are endemic (61 percent), one of the highest levels of mammal endemism in any hotspot. Endemism is high at the generic level as well, with 23 of 83 genera endemic to the hotspot. Rodent diversification in the Philippines is comparable with the radiation of honeycreepers in the Hawaiian Islands and finches in the Galapagos.
The largest and most impressive of the mammals in the Philippines is the tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis, CR), a dwarf water buffalo that lives only on Mindoro Island. A century ago the population numbered 10,000 individuals; today only a few hundred animals exist in the wild. Other mammals endemic to the Philippines include: the Visayan and Philippine warty pigs (Sus cebifrons, CR and S. philippensis, VU); the Calamianes hog-deer (Axis calamaniensis, EN) and the Visayan spotted deer (Rusa alfredi, EN), which has been reduced to a population of a few hundred on the islands of Negros, Masbate and Panay; and the golden-capped fruit bat (Acerodon jubatus, EN), which, as the world’s largest bat, has a wingspan up to 1.7 meters.
The Negros naked-backed fruit bat (Dobsonia chapmani), which was thought to be extinct in the Philippines, has recently been rediscovered, on the islands of Cebu in 2000 and Negros in 2003.
Reptiles are represented by about 235 species, some 160 of which are endemic (68 percent). Six genera are endemic, including the snake genus Myersophis, which is represented by a single species, Myersophis alpestris, on Luzon. The Philippine flying lizards from the genus Draco are well represented here, with about 10 species. These lizards have a flap of skin on either side of their body, which they use to glide from trees to the ground.
An endemic freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis, CR) is considered the most threatened crocodilian in the world. In 1982, wild populations totaled only 500-1000 individuals; by 1995 a mere 100 crocodiles remained in natural habitats. The recent discovery of a population of this species in the Sierra Madre of Luzon brings new hope for its conservation, as does the implementation of projects aimed at raising awareness and protecting the crocodileâ€™s habitat. The Crocodile Rehabilitation, Observance and Conservation (CROC) Project of the Mabuwaya Foundation is active in carrying out such projects.
Other unique and threatened reptiles include Gray’s monitor (Varanus olivaceus, VU) and the Philippine pond turtle (Heosemys leytensis, CR). A newly discovered monitor lizard, Varanus mabitang, from Panay is only the second monitor species known in the world to specialize on a fruit diet.
There are nearly 90 amphibian species in the hotspot, almost 85 percent of which are endemic; these totals continue to increase, with the continuing discovery and description of new species. One interesting amphibian, the panther flying frog (Rhacophorus pardalis), has special adaptations for gliding, including extra flaps of skin and webbing between fingers and toes to generate lift during glides. The frog glides down from trees to breed in plants suspended above stagnant bodies of water. The frog genus Platymantis is particularly well represented with some 26 species, all of which are endemic; of these, 22 are considered threatened. The young of all Platymantis species undergo direct development, bypassing the tadpole stage. The hotspot is also home to the Philippine flat-headed frog (Barbourula busuangensis, VU), one of the world’s most primitive frog species.
The Philippines has more than 280 inland fish, including nine endemic genera and more than 65 endemic species, many of which are confined to single lakes. An example is Sardinella tawilis, a freshwater sardine found only in Taal Lake. Sadly, Lake Lanao, in Mindanao, seems likely to have become the site of one of the hotspots worst extinction catastrophes, with nearly all of the lakes endemic fish species now almost certainly extinct, primarily due to the introduction of exotic species (like Tilapia).
About 70 percent of the Philippines nearly 21,000 recorded insect species are found only in this hotspot. About one-third of the 915 butterflies found here are endemic to the Philippines, and over 110 of the more than 130 species of tiger beetle are found nowhere else.
In the light of the above analysis the critical areas the national biodiversity strategy must address have been identified, in order of priority, as follows.
1. Alternative Protected Areas System
It is recognized that the currently existing protected areas system in the Cordillera has limitations in regard to its overall size, representiveness, conceptual approach, financing, legal framework and management / institutions. It is also clear that the Cordillera region has undergone a very serious decline in its biodiversity in the past 30 years which threatens the continued viability of ecosystems and the countries prospects for sustainable development.
To not only survive but also to expand, as is clearly necessary to meet conservation needs, the protected areas system must develop a conceptual and methodological approach which meets new socio-economic and political realities. It must be able to justify its cost (both financially and from exclusion of other use) by providing clear benefits to national sustainable development – it must limit the extent of those costs by providing economic and social benefits to citizens of the republic, particularly those living in or around protected areas – and it must ensure the conservation of biodiversity and natural landscape essential for the economic, social and cultural needs of future generations.
Thus, a review, reorganization and expansion of the protected system will be carried out over a five year period (2008 – 20012). During this activity the guiding principles and targets will include:
2. Public Awareness, Participation and Education
For the strategy to be successful it is essential that sufficient awareness and understanding of the conceptual basis, benefits and needs of biodiversity sustainable use and conservation are conveyed to all levels of the general public, particularly decision makers, local government administrators and communities close or within protected areas and the youth of the nation. In addition there is a need to encourage the participation of the public in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity as this will be the most effective means of engendering understanding and genuine public support for actions required to conserve biodiversity.
It is recognized that this process will take time and will be a component of a general deepening understanding and awareness of the country for environmental issues. However the strategy identifies priority actions required to begin this process including: increasing the knowledge base of decision makers; developing appropriate media and local awareness programs; revision and development of school and university curricula; and development of public participation mechanisms in protected areas.
Though elements of sustainable use of biodiversity resources, such as regulated hunting, collection of medicinal plants need to be regulated– the overall conceptual approach, incorporating the multitude of economic and non-economic benefits, is comparatively new. A step by step approach to the strengthening and development of sustainable use mechanisms will therefore be used starting with the strengthening and refining of existing regulatory aspects, and the development within the protected areas systems of sustainable use approaches which maybe applicable outside at a later point in time. In addition, during the initial implementation of the strategy, investigations into realistic and appropriate sustainable use options will be undertaken on the basis of available local resources and international experience in this subject area. Secondary priorities to be addressed at a later point in the strategy operational period will include the development of options identified during the initial stages. For the sake of organizational clarity, sustainable uses have been subdivided into three sub-components:
Cultural and Recreational Use: The Cordillera is an old region with a strong sense of cultural and historical heritage – the nature and landscape of the region are an integral part of that heritage, representative components of which must be conserved. Secondly, region is rapidly growing and youthful population with increasing recreational needs. The availability of natural areas will be important in meeting these needs.
4. Justification for Strategic Priorities
The above important areas have been identified as the three essential issues for the region to address at this time for it to meet its sustainable development needs in this sector. Actions under this strategy will allow for meeting priority issues, such as:
Protected areas development has been identified as the area of first priority because of the need for immediate actions to reduce rapid loss of biodiversity, to address urgent problems facing protected areas management and to take advantage of the current momentum for reform in the region.
Public awareness, education and participation have been allocated second highest priority mainly because it is recognized that achievements in these areas will require time. However, they are vital components for the strategies long term success.
Sustainable use has been allocated third priority for two reasons: firstly, a number of issues / actions relevant to sustainable use will form components of protected areas development and public awareness, education and participation. Secondly, utilization of the full potential of biological resources is a comparatively new concept in Uzbekistan, as elsewhere, and one which will initially require some evaluation and assessment before concrete action is undertaken.
Action Plan: Goals, Steps, and Outputs
1. The System of Protected Areas
Introduction: The Action Plan consists of 5 sections: (1) Protected Area System; (2) Public Awareness, Participation, and Education; (3) Sustainable Use of Biodiversity Resources; (4) Regional and Local-level Biodiversity Action Plans; (5) Co-ordination of International Relations and Aid in the Field of biodiversity.
Every section contains subsections that list actions taking which are required for meeting the objectives of the section.
An action description contains the entry putting down organisational context and responsibilities showing steps to reach the desired result, and, finally, the conclusive entry designating the result. For the sake of clarity different-type entries are marked with distinct symbols, as follows:
indicates organisational structure
indicates steps required
1. The System of Protected Areas
1.1. The Institutional and Legal Provisions
1.2. Protected Areas System Reorganization and Expansion
1.3 Management of Protected Areas
1.4. National Biodiversity Information System
1.5. Captive Breeding and Ex-Situ Conservation
Overall Objective: To establish a sustainable and diversified system of protected areas with strong legal protection and effective management which is properly representative of the range of Cordillera ecosystems and species and which covers at least 10% of the region.
1.1. The Institutional and Legal Provisions
Section 1.1 Objective: To develop the institutional and legal basis for development and management of an expanded and reorganized protected areas system
1.1.1 Review existing institutional arrangements for administration and management of protected areas and an introduction of changes to ensure their adequacy.
|A specially established group (commission) of independent experts (specialists from Academe, DENR, DA, legal counsels, NCIP, NGOs) will:|
|review the existing institutional arrangements for the management of protected areas, identify priority problems and changes required to meet the new approach developed|
|on the basis of the above, the commission will prepare recommendations concerning reforms required to the existing distribution of institutional responsibility for administration of different categories of protected areas (i.e. which institution will have responsibility for strict nature reserves, which for national parks and which for other areas, etc.)|
|submit recommendations to the National Commission for Biodiversity (NCB) for clearance and forwarding to Government of the Republic of the Philippines|
1.1.2. Review of the legislation on protected areas
|To establish a group of experts to analyse the existing legislation on protected areas, which will:|
|analyse the existing legislation, and determine its completeness and adequacy in the context of its reorganisation and reform.|
|prepare the relevant proposals for making changes in or additions to the legislation and submit it to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines for approval.|
1.2. Protected Areas System Reorganization and Expansion
Section 1.2 Objective: to develop a program to create a reorganized and expanded protected areas system which best meets the biodiversity conservation and development needs of the country under the new political and socio economic conditions.
1.2.1. Develop and formalize a new conceptual approach to protected areas design and management which will best meet the biodiversity conservation and development needs of the country under the new political and socio-economic conditions.
|To organise a independent group of experts to develop recommendations on the general objectives and methodological approach of the national protected areas system. This group will:|
|analyse the current objectives and methodological approach of theprotected areas system in the region and examine international experience in this field|
|develop the conceptual basis for a new protected areas system and its role in the natural resources management policy of the country, taking into account Cordillera’s specific environmental and socio-economic situation and known international best practices.|
|submit a report to Action Plan Co-ordination Group (APCG)|
1.2.2 Protected Areas Categories and Selection Criteria
|establish a group of experts to determine, in the context of the above report, new categories of protected areas and selection criteria for their establishment|
|review international norms, recent experience in other countries and the existing situation in the Philippines and the region.|
|submit recommendations for required categories of protected areas in Region, and criteria for their selection and establishment to the APCG|
1.2.3 Ecological and Land Use Mapping for National Protected Areas Planning:
|Establish a group of independent experts including biologists, geographers, specialists in landscape science, cartographers and foresters to prepare basic maps including|
|large scale maps of existing network of protected areas|
|maps of ecological systems of country indicated areas requiring priority protection|
1.2.4. Development of a National Ecological Network Program(protected areas of various categories/status), its approval and realization.
|The Action Plan Co-ordination Group, on the basis of reports and criteria submitted by expert groups, will:|
|identify existing areas which require reorganisation / changing of category (status).|
|identify the areas with potential for expansion of current protected areas, and creation of new protected areas|
|consult with current land users of areas identified and local governments to ensure practical conditions exist for expansion of existing areas / creation of new areas.|
|prepare plan of action for realisation of National Ecological Network Programme , detailing recommended expansion / reorganisation of existing areas and creation of new areas|
|submit proposed programme to the national Commission for Biodiversity (NCB) for passing to the Government for clearance|
1.2.5 Implementation of plan of action for realizing the National Program of Ecological Network
|APCG to ensure appropriate measures are taken for the realisation of the National Ecological Network of protected areas.|
1.3 Management of Protected Areas
Section 1.3 Objective: To identify the changes required in order to effectively manage the reorganized and expanded protected areas system developed under section 1.2 and develop a program to carry out necessary changes
1.3.1 Protected Areas Management Structure
|Establish a group of experts from the institutions responsible for management of protected areas which will:|
|Assess current management structure of protected areas system, and on the basis of international and local experience identify changes in management structure required for effective management of reorganised protected areas system., at both protected areas level and central administration levels.|
|Identify mechanisms for ensuring effective co-ordination and co-operation between national institutions responsible for management of protected areas within the republic and also those of bordering countries|
|Identify mechanisms for ensuring practical involvement of local government and other local level organisations including NGOs and community groups, in management of protected areas.|
|Submit to APCG a report outlining necessary changes to current management structures required and co-ordination /co-operation measures needed.|
1.3.2. Protected Areas Personnel: Assessment of personnel expertise and sufficiency of numbers to implement the reorganized protected areas system and recommendations for action.
|A group of experts from institutions responsible for management of protected areas shall:|
|identify the gaps between existing technical knowledge/expertise of protected areas managers/staff and those required to implement the reorganisation of the protected areas management.|
|develop a national programme for addressing gaps in protected areas personnel technical knowledge and expertise including: the development of national and local facilities for training / retraining of managerial and field staff of protected areas; and .utilisation of international experience through study tours/overseas training|
|identify potential sources of international technical and training support (training facilities and financing of training)|
|work out optimal and sufficient number of employees for protected areas of various status in the context of reorganised protected areas system|
|submit a report to APCG detailing needs in terms of protected areas personnel training and numbers and recommended actions.|
1.3.3. Scientific Research and Monitoring for Protected Areas Management
|An expert group including members of institutions involved in protected areas management, protected areas field staff and academe will:|
|identify the basic research required within protected areas of different category / status for monitoring and decision making purposes|
|design standard research and monitoring programmes for each category of protected area|
|submit proposed standard research and monitoring programmes to APCG for review and action.|
1.3.4. Determination of the levels of existing equipment and supplies for protected areas management and identify needs in the context of the reorganized protected areas system.
|The group of experts from institutions responsible for management shall :|
|carry out an analysis of the current levels of technical equipment and supplies for the protected areas:|
|identify the standard equipment and supplies that will in the future be required by protected areas of different category / status within the reorganised system|
|submit proposals to the APCG for introduction of changes into the level of technical equipment and supplies provided to protected areas of different category / status|
1.3.5. Determination of financial resources required for development of reorganized protected areas system. and identify sources for these financial resources
|A group of independent experts shall consider the level of budgetary financing required for the reorganised protected areas system for the initial 5 years of the action plan implementation and|
|calculate budget estimates for both development requirements in protected areas and annual recurrent costs based on the reports submitted (actions 1.3.1, 1.3.2, 1.3.3).|
|identify sources of financing for development and annual recurrent costs (i.e. state sources, funds generated by protected areas, international sources for specific developments)|
|submit report to APCG for consideration and action|
How to calculate the amount of CO sequestered in a tree per year
Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan
Cordillera Ecological Center (PINE TREE)
The Cordillera Ecological Center (PINE TREE) , Philippines estimates that trees planted either for reforestation , afforestation and agroforestry in the Cordillera region, having a tropical climate, will sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide at an average of 50 pounds of carbon dioxide per tree per year.
The rate of carbon sequestration depends on the growth characteristics of the tree species,
the conditions for growth where the tree is planted, and the density of the tree’s wood. It
is greatest in the younger stages of tree growth, between 20 to 50 years. Complicating the issue is the fact that far less research has been done on tropical tree species as compared to temperate tree species.
Nevertheless, I can roughly estimate the amount of CO2 sequestered in a given tree,
by dividing the tree’s get a yearly sequestration rate.
1. Determine the total (green) weight of the tree.
2. Determine the dry weight of the tree.
3. Determine the weight of carbon in the tree.
4. Determine the weight of carbon dioxide sequestered in the tree
5. Determine the weight of CO sequestered in the tree per year
1. Determine the total (green) weight of the tree
Use the following algorithm:
W = Above-ground weight of the tree in pounds
D = Diameter of the trunk in inches
H = Height of the tree in feet
For trees with D < 11:
W = 0.25D2H
For trees with D > 11:
W = 0.15D2H
Depending on the species, the coefficient (e.g. 0.25) could change, and the variables D
and H could be raised to exponents just above or below 1. However, these two equations
could be seen as an “average” of all the species’ equations.
The root system weighs about 20% as much as the above-ground weight of the tree.
Therefore, to determine the total green weight of the tree, multiply the above-ground
weight of the tree by 120%.
2. Determine the dry weight of the tree
Studies show that the average tree is 72.5% dry matter and 27.5% moisture.
Therefore, to determine the dry weight of the tree, multiply the weight of the tree by
3. Determine the weight of carbon in the tree
The average carbon content is generally 50% of the tree’s total volume. Therefore, to
determine the weight of carbon in the tree, multiply the dry weight of the tree by 50%.
4. Determine the weight of carbon dioxide sequestered in the tree
CO2 is composed of one molecule of Carbon and 2 molecules of Oxygen.
The atomic weight of Carbon is 12.001115.
The atomic weight of Oxygen is 15.9994.
The weight of CO is C+2*O=43.999915.
The ratio of CO to C is 43.999915/12.001115=3.6663.
Therefore, to determine the weight of carbon dioxide sequestered in the tree, multiply the
weight of carbon in the tree by 3.6663. sequestered in the tree per year
5. Determine the weight of CO
Divide the weight of carbon dioxide sequestered in the tree by the age of the tree.
Et voila! Congratulations!
Estimated growth rates and sizes of trees were taken from the World
Agroforestry Centre’s “Agroforestree Database” :
Let’s see how much a Calliandra calothyrsus might sequester in a year. A 10-year-old
Calliandra would probably grow about 15 feet tall with a trunk about 8 inches in
W = 0.25D2H
H = 0.25(8 )2(15) = 240 lbs. green weight above ground.
240 lbs. * 120% = 288 lbs. green weight (roots included)
288 lbs. * 72.5% = 208.8 lbs. dry weight
208.8 lbs. * 50% = 104.4 lbs. carbon
104.4 lbs * 3.6663 = 382.8 lbs. CO2 sequestered
382.8 lbs / 10 years = 38.3 lbs. CO2 sequestered per year
Or consider a 10-year-old Grevillia robusta, 45 feet tall with a trunk 6 inches in diameter.
Using the same calculations as above, the amount of CO2 sequestered would be 64.6 lbs.
Or a newly-planted Acacia angustissima, 2.5 years old, 15 feet tall with a trunk 3 inches
in diameter: 21.5 lbs. of CO2 sequestered per year.
Or an Albizzia lebbek, 15 years old, 30 feet tall, with a 12 inch trunk: 68.9 lbs. of CO2
sequestered per year.
Because PINE TREE has been planting Caliandra calothyrsus since 1992, we can easily calculate the carbon sequestered by our trees. Thank you. MICHAEL A. BENGWAYAN