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The Impacts Of The El Nino Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 1771 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Biodiversity refers to the sum of all life and its habitat. Biodiversity is the variety of life and the ecological systems which individuals are actively participating in. Biodiversity is important for maintaining ecological balance in nature. Some benefits of biodiversity include: human benefits, food, industrial and commercial products, medicines etc. Biodiversity hotspot refers to a bio-geographic region that is both a significant reservoir of biodiversity and is threatened with destruction. Philippines, one of the world’s richest biodiversity in the world but also one of the most endangered areas in the world. The country contains many endemic species. 6000 plants and animals reside in forests that occupy barely 7% of the original hotspot. Today, the forests are removed for farming and development plans for the country’s growing population. The major issue is the decline of biodiversity hotspots in the Philippines [1] . By examining the environmental impacts, human impacts, political impacts and the conservation strategies needed to maintain biodiversity hotspots in the Philippines, this research paper will aim to develop awareness and understanding of how the decline of biodiversity hotspots may be resolved.

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Human Impacts

Philippines’ population of 80 million people survive using the country’s natural resources. With a high population growth rate, the demand for timber has increased. Logging activities have declined due to the deterioration of the forests; however, illegal logging activities are still present. Other threats to the country’s forests include mining and land conversion. In 1997, the mining industry occupied more than half of the remaining forests. Roads, waste, power, energy, ports and harbours are current issues to be addressed. [2] 

There have been negative impacts upon introducing the following exotic species to Philippines: fish such as the giant catfish and black bass; toads and frogs including the marine toad, the American bullfrog and leopard frog; and aquatic plants like the water hyacinth and water fern. The presence of exotic species becomes a threat to native biodiversity; predator-prey interactions are more competitive, loss of species integrity through inter-breeding with exotic species, the spread of disease pathogens along with introduced species and habitat loss for native species. [3] 

Only 10% of the sewage in the Philippines is treated in an environmentally friendly manner. With the population rising, there are problems associated with waste management and treatment. The improper waste management affects the country’s ground water, rivers, lakes and coastal areas where the species’ habitats are threatened. [4] 

Over fishing occurs when the fish are caught faster than they could reproduce. Overfishing increases the vulnerability of ocean ecosystems and may contribute to the loss of species in the region. The main issue in the Philippines involves cyanide fishing where fishermen squirt cyanide into coral holes and crevices, where reef fish seek shelter [5] . Other causes of over fishing include catching adult fish too early and in large numbers so the reproduction is impaired. Economic overfishing also occurs when increase in the fish effort lead to profit levels that are below the desired consumption.

Environmental Impacts

The impact of El Niño affects Philippines’ biodiversity hotspots. The country’s weather officials define El Niño as a meteorological event that develops in the Pacific Ocean and associated with extreme rains, winds, droughts, etc [6] . In the Philippines, El Niño has been seen as drought events. El Niño is also the sudden rise of oceanic temperature and evaporation of surface water; therefore having an effect on coral growth and sea life. Algae living inside the tissues of coral help their feeding mechanism and other processes for survival. The distress to the sudden change of temperature causes the coral to bleach. Fish no longer live inside the coral because the coral is uneatable. The drought creates dry conditions for fish ponds. The drought also creates a negative impact on marine biodiversity by shorter fish production, inhibit fish growth and increase fish mortality due to stress, poor water quality and disease.

Philippines’ primary forests are being destroyed due to logging and agricultural expansion; therefore, decreasing the country’s natural resources. Two particular species of animals are becoming extinct; the tamaraw (the wild buffalo) and the Philippines’ eagle because their habitats are becoming damaged. Deforestation in the Philippines occurs because of agricultural expansion and illegal logging [7] . Forests provide cooling insulation to the climate but with deforestation, the climate shifts from drought into flood. The tamaraw (wild buffalo) escapes into the forest to find limited trees to cling onto. Deforestation causes species to be displaced from their original habitats and loss of top soil causing erosions affecting the habitat for endemic species. Looking back at the farming industry’s use of pesticides, erosions may carry the pesticides into the rivers and streams. The water is now contaminated with pesticides affecting the endemic species which live in this habitat.

The destruction of costal mangroves is also caused by deforestation. Mangroves are needed to protect the coast from hurricanes and other severe weather impacts. Cutting mangroves for fuel wood limits and degrades coral reproduction. Any endemic species living under the water are affected by losing their habitat causing a negative impact on biodiversity hotspots.

Political Impacts

Inadequate institutional control and poor law enforcement in the Philippines have impacted the biodiversity hotspot for endemic species. The Fisheries Code was passed in 1998 and now serves as the primary legislation for fisheries and coastal management and protection in the Philippines. The Fisheries Code fails to recognize who may access and control municipal waters for fishing activities. The Fisheries Code is a weak enforcement system which encourages poaching and violation of marine protected area boundaries. Other problems include current property rights, and local power relations to enable local public officials who own or have indirect business with the fishing industry may influence local policy and enforcement outcomes for their personal gain. Political influence enables many to obtain profitable forest profits, enhancing their political power and strengthening their ability to corrupt government officials. This class dominates the farmers and social economic policies with the results of harming the biodiversity hot spots for endemic species. The legislated operational guidelines are often under addressed on the issues that threat environmental events such as lost of biodiversity. The Forestry law of PD705 is out dated because the law does not contain new methods and approaches like biodiversity protection. [8] 

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Conservation Plans

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been working as an international organization in the Philippines since 1997. The organization’s mission in the country involves preserving endemic species and biodiversity, maintaining sustainability of natural resources and reducing waste and pollutants in the environment. The organization places strong emphasis on marine biodiversity. WWF-Philippines implanted their plans in 11 provinces and at minimum 28 towns. [9] 

To ensure that the network of protected regions is effectively conserving biodiversity by the conservation of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) where endemic or threatened species are held in restricted areas. In the Philippines hotspot, Conservation International-Philippines created a partnership with the Field Museum in Chicago, Haribon Foundation and other local partners to identify and distinguish KBAs throughout the Philippines. With protected regions, there is also a need for field research in order to support conservation activities. Endemic species continue to be discovered and KBAs are needed to create a plan for their survival. [10] 

In the long term, landscape and sea conservation is necessary to protect the biodiversity hotspots in the Philippines. The Philippine Eagle Alliance has collaborated with other conservation organizations in order to protect the endemic species of the country.


In recent years, there has been a decline in biodiversity hotspots, particularly in the Philippines. Firstly, human impacts upon endemic species include deforestation, illegal logging, introducing new exotic species, poor sewage management and over fishing. Secondly, environmental impacts such as El Niño, soil erosion, pesticides and destruction of coastal mangroves all affect biodiversity hotspots. Lastly, political impacts include inadequate law enforcement; especially for the fisheries and coastal management, and forestation guidelines are not influential in the protection of biodiversity hotspots in the Philippines. The impacts develop awareness of the collaboration efforts from WWF, Conservation International-Philippines, the Philippine Eagle Alliance and other conservation organizations which minimize the harm to biodiversity hotspots in the Philippines.


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