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Environmental Protection

The 7,107 islands of the Philippine archipelago includes a land area of approx. 30 million hectares. There of are nearly 60% mountainous. Of the remaining land area there are only 2.5 million hectares of relatively flat, dry and suitable for intensive agricultural development. A large part of the country is exposed to erosion, so that particularly this of the agricultural land, which is under the land reform suitable for crop, is due to the advanced erosion not hardly suitable to cultivate.

Almost 17 million hectares of the 30 million hectares of land are covered by forest. Meanwhile, quite five million hectares of them are cut down and approximately one million hectares of that forest area urgently needs to be afforested. Forest fires, burning, illegal logging and smuggling of valuable timber add to the forest heaviest damages. The mangrove forests for example shrunk from 418,000 hectares in 1967 to 146,000 hectares in the year 1987. In connection with the illegal exploitation of forests the biological balance is disturbed. Wildlife and rare plants, birds, etc., are partially of extinction. or in danger.

Many of the coral reefs, which are in upstream of many islands, are now destroyed by the illegal dynamite fishing. Estimates are that only 5-10% of the remaining coral sticks are in reasonably healthy condition. Long periods of drought, which changes with heavy rains and typhoons during the rainy season turns, have led to problems in the water supply and sources. While metropolitan areas such as Metro Manila and Cebu are faced with water rationing during the summer months, the available water in the whole Visayas and Central Luzon are not particularly abundant.

One of the biggest environmental problems in the cities is air pollution. A large part of the exhaust gases are from motor vehicles and factory chimneys which are given unfiltered into the atmosphere. Especially in Metro Manila provided this in truth to a great extent, where settles approx. 69% of the 15,000 industrial enterprises of the whole country, At the shore of the Pasig River, which flows right in the middle of Metro Manila, settle more than 140 industrial companies, which uses the river such as the supplier of water and for their sewerage system. There are a number of other rivers and river systems, which are heavily polluted.

In addition to the overexploitation of natural resources and the uncontrolled usage provides to serious health hazards of the population. For example, in the summer of 1988 to observe that mussels and crustaceans, caught in the Manila Bay, were inadequate for human consumption. They are the cause of serious illness after eating fish dishes (Red tide).

Another problem can be found in the mining industry, where exists no coherent environmental protection plan for the development, processing and use of energy sources. In addition, mining companies and pulp mills let toxic wastewaters and effluents into the Philippine sea, which heavily damaged the fish stocks and made it as well impossible for hatcheries for crabs at the West Coast. So far, almost no restrictions or orders for rehabilitation and repair of damaged or excessively utilized nature exists.

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