Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variety among living organisms measured in the number of plants and animal species living in a certain habitat. It also includes the genetic diversity within species. Rainforests and coral reefs are places of immense diversity due to the countless of possible niches for adaptation they offer for development of new species.

A rainforest can be seen as a living ecosystem, or equilibrium of all the plants and animals within it and their innumerable interactions. Due to the relative isolation of the Philippine islands most of the species are unique and cannot be found elsewhere. They are endemic species. In our area of study some species are endemic for the Philippines. Some are even endemic for the island of Mindanao.

About 80% of the food of the developed world came originally from rain forest plants. It includes avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples, mangos and tomatoes; vegetables including corn, potatoes, rice, winter squash and yams; spices like black pepper, cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sugar cane, turmeric, coffee and vanilla and cashews.

Some 120 prescription drugs sold worldwide today are derived directly from rainforest plants. And according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, more than two-thirds of all medicines found to have cancer-fighting properties come from rainforest plants.

It is now well accepted that a high diversity of life is necessary for the stability and survival of organisms within ecosystems in particular for the survival of its top predators. On the other hand without these top predators ecosystems may also collapse.

Removing large carnivores like big cats and eagles from tropical forests has a far reaching influence on the composition of plants and animals within the ecosystem. Within our Project area the critically endangered Philippine Eagle is the largest predator. Protection of this magnificent bird is tantamount to protection of the forest and its biodiversity.