MANILA, Philippinesâ€”The Philippines is among the 10 areas in the world with the most at-risk forest areas, posing a danger to endemic species and could affect the livelihood of local residents, the group Conservation International said on Wednesday.
In a statement, the group identified the other areas as Indo-Burma, New Zealand, Sundaland, Atlantic Forest, Mountains of Southwest China, Cape Floristic Province, Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa, Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands and Eastern Afromontane.
These areas, each harboring at least 1,500 endemic plant species, have lost 90 percent or more of their forest cover.
â€œIf these forests are lost, those endemic species are also lost forever,â€ the conservation group said in a statement.
The list was released to commemorate the International Year of Forests as the group underscored the need to protect the worldâ€™s forests and make sure that their pivotal role on biodiversity conservation, climate stabilization and economic development is not undervalued.
â€œForests are being destroyed at an alarming rate to give room to pastures, agricultural land, mineral exploitation and sprawling urban areas, but by doing so we are destroying our own capacity to survive,â€ said Olivier Langrand, CIâ€™s international policy chief.
Forests, which now cover only 30 percent of the planetâ€™s surface, are home to 80 percent of the worldâ€™s terrestrial biodiversity. About 1.6 billion people directly depend on healthy forests for livelihood.
â€œForests must be seen as more than just a group of trees. Forests give us vital benefits. They already play an enormous economic role in the development of many countries as a source of timber, food, shelter and recreation, and have an even greater potential that needs to be realized in terms of water provision, erosion prevention and carbon sequestration,â€ Langrand said.