Why the Philippines? This island nation (over 7,000 islands) is one of the most biologically diverse nations in the world. *With only 3 to 6 percent of its original vegetation remaining, the Philippines is listed by the conservation community as one of the top five, biodiversity "hotspot" priorities in the world. Described as the "hottest" of the "hotspots," its natural treasures include some of the most diverse coral species on Earth and an unusual diversity of unique mammal species. Of an estimated 10,000-12,000 plants, half are endemic-- found nowhere else on earth. Of the 895 species of butterflies, 352 are unique to the Philippines, making it the second most diverse place in the world for endemic butterflies.
Furthermore, some of the Philippines' richest biodiversity exists under the sea. It is estimated that coral reefs cover an area greater than 10 percent of the land area of the Philippines. More than 500 of the 700 species of coral known to exist are found in the Philippines making it the country with the richest diversity of coral in the world. (World Wildlife Fund, 2000)
Consisting of more than 7,000 islands and a total land area of about 122,000 mi˛ (300,782 km˛), the Philippines is roughly the size of the state of New Mexico, with approximately 61,790,000 people. Most major habitats have been fragmented or destroyed. Little is remaining in protected areas, or not under threat of loss. Threats to these areas include: extractive industries, such as logging and mining that destroy remaining forests; high population density and growth rates (around 2.3 percent) in a relatively small land area has placed enormous pressure on natural resources and ecosystems; cyanide and dynamite fishing along with rapid development in coastal areas is destroying coral reefs and mangroves-- critical nursery habitats; and finally agriculture and plantations are spreading rapidly to areas once forested. (WWF website, 2000)
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Images of the KILUS program