Healthy ecosystems means resiliency, faster recovery against climate change (excerpts)

Scientists say there is a direct link and evidence that biodiversity boosts the resiliency of ecosystems against the impacts of climate change—a reason the protection and conservation of the country’s rich biodiversity can never be overemphasized. (…) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is at the forefront of defending the country’s rich biodiversity against various threats brought about by human pressures. (…)

Ocean acidification

Ocean acidification caused by excessive emission of carbon is the most feared effect of climate change to coastal and marine environment. While the ocean is a big carbon sink, its carbon-absorption capacity would soon reach breaking point because of excessive carbon emitted into the atmosphere.

“Ocean acidification weakens all species—from corals, fish, seaweed and sea grass. This will definitely affect food security,” Hilomen said.

He said the Philippines is on the right track in joining other countries to cut carbon emission under the 2015 Paris Agreement. Limiting the global temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius by 2030 means deep cuts on carbon emission.

The Philippines, although not a big emitter of greenhouse gas, committed to reduce by 70 percent its carbon emission by 2030, subject to assistance it gets from developed countries.

Scientists have warned that global-temperature increase of 2˚C would spell not only the extinction of animal and plant species, but the human population, as well. “It is only right to demand accountability from big polluters. But we should also do our part in reducing our own carbon footprint,” he said.

Resiliency, faster recovery

Having healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity make the ecosystems, whether in land or water, resilient to climate change.

Dr. AA Yaptinchay, director of Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, said there are various studies that suggest the direct link between biodiversity and climate change.

“Climate change affects everything. Change in temperature, sea level, even the chemistry of the water will impact any living thing in the ocean,” he said. Water-temperature increase, he said, will change water current. “Certain organisms have specific habitat preferences. There are species that prefer to stay in coral reefs. Change in temperature, say increase in temperature, will drive them away or they will die because they will not survive unless they move to higher latitude,” he said. (…)

Protecting the marine environment

According to Lim, the DENR-BMB’s strategy to mitigate the impact of climate change is to strengthen the protection of existing marine protected areas.

That way, she said, habitat-forming species from mangroves to sea grass and corals will be protected against destructive human activities, ensuring the survival of fish and other marine life that thrive within.

The DENR, however, is taking a different tack in rehabilitating damaged marine ecosystems, which Hilomen said would cost around P500,000 to P5 million per hectare.

“We don’t have the resources for massive rehabilitation. What we are going to do is to reduce the threat and protect our marine environment against destructive activities to allow natural rehabilitation,” he said.

Jonathan L. Mayuga, Business Mirror, 11 December 2016. Article.


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