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Climate change, diseases threaten PHL trees–report

In file photo: The DENR, GCash, Biofin and WWF aim to plant 365,000 new trees as soon as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted in 2021.

The clearing of forests, exploitation, pests and diseases, and climate change are killing Philippine trees, according to the State of the World’s Trees.

According to the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) report, these activities are threatening 34 percent or 756 tree species in the country.

The Philippines is one of the 12 countries with the most number of endemic tree species as it has a total of 2,220 tree species and 1,004 of these are considered endemic.

“The main threats to tree species are forest clearance and other forms of habitat loss, direct exploitation for timber and other products and the spread of invasive pests and diseases. Climate change is also having a clearly measurable impact,” BGCI said in a statement.

The report stated that 29 percent of trees are affected by agriculture; 27 percent, logging; and 14 percent, livestock farming.

Data also showed residential and commercial development and fire and fire suppression each affect 13 percent of trees.

The report also said energy production and mining affects 9 percent; wood and pulp plantations, 6 percent; invasive and other problematic species, 5 percent; and climate change, 4 percent.

“The threats to trees act in different combinations and at different intensities in different parts of the world. Threats also change over time,” the report stated.

The report stated that a total of 15,748 endemic tree species were recorded in 10 countries with the highest recorded number of endemic trees.

Apart from the Philippines, the countries with the most endemic trees are Brazil, Madagascar, Australia, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mexico, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, and Colombia.

The country with the most diverse tree flora is Brazil, with 8,847 tree species, followed by Colombia with 5,868 species and Indonesia with 5,716 species.

Of the most diverse countries, the report stated that New Zealand, Madagascar and New Caledonia had the greatest proportion of endemic tree species, with over 90 percent of species being found nowhere else.

Based on the Global Tree Assessment, a 5-year intensive research compiled extinction risk information on the 58,497 tree species worldwide.

The study found that 30 percent of tree species are threatened with extinction, and at least 142 tree species were recorded as extinct.

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