Patterns of forest cover loss in the terrestrial Key Biodiversity Areas in the Philippines: critical habitat conservation priorities

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Bernard Peter Daipan


The Philippines, home to over 20,000 endemic species of plants and animals, is facing a biodiversity crisis due to the constant decrease of forest cover. The Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) approach was developed to conserve species threatened with extinction using a site-based conservation strategy to select globally important sites using threshold-based criteria for species irreplaceability and vulnerability. This study investigates the applicability of remotely sensed data through geospatial analysis to quantify forest cover loss of the 101 terrestrial KBAs in the country between 2001 and 2019. Results showed that the study sites had 4.5 million hectares (ha) of forest in the year 2000. However, these sites have lost about 270,000 ha of forest in nearly two decades, marking a steady decline with an annual deforestation rate of 14,213 ha per year in these terrestrial KBAs. The majority of the study sites (58) had a high percentage of forest loss (>3.13%), and these should be prioritized for conservation. By the year 2030, it is forecast that a total of 331 thousand ha of forest will be lost unless there is a transformational change in the country’s approach to dealing with deforestation. The results of this study provide relevant data and information in forest habitat in near real-time monitoring to assess the impact and effectiveness of forest governance and approaches within these critical habitats.

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