An endangered habitat
This site is under redevelopment. Its content is from 1998, but we will be updating it in the near future.
Although the Isarog shrew-rat has little if any direct economic value, it and the other mammals, birds, and plants on the mountain are all part of the rain-forest ecosystem that provides a huge benefit to Naga City and the surrounding areas. The rain forest ensures a supply of clean water, protects low-lying areas from flooding during typhoons, and provides wild game, medicinal plants, recreation, and ecotourism.
The threat to the rain forest on Mount Isarog is both tragic and severe. Our studies in the park demonstrated that 27 species of birds found in the park by Professor Rabor's field team in 1961 had become locally extinct by 1988—20 percent of the total of 135 species. All of these locally extinct species are among the 64 that live (or lived) in lowland rain forest. The Isarog shrew-rat and two other species of mammals that are known only from Mount Isarog are now listed as endangered in the Red Data Book of the IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature). On December 5, 1993, a typhoon passing through the area of Mount Isarog caused a major flood in Naga City, the first in its 420-year history. Water up to two meters deep filled the main downtown area along the Bicol River.Branches and pieces of trunks of rain-forest trees created logjams that caught parts of houses and dead domestic animals. Several people were killed, and damage to homes, businesses, agricultural fields, roads, and bridges was tremendous. The newspapers quickly pinpointed illegal logging in the vicinity of Mount Isarog as the source of the problem, and highlighted the failure of protection and reforestation programs.
This story has been repeated all across the Philippines in recent years. Floods, droughts, and the siltation of coral reefs have risen dramatically in recent years as the last remnants of rain forest come under increasing pressure.
Once overlooked as a center of biological diversity, this nation of islands has now vaulted to the top of the list of "megadiversity" countries. More than 510 species of mammals, birds, frogs, and lizards have been found that are unique to the Philippines. Unfortunately, with the discovery of the richness of Philippine biodiversity has come the realization that nearly half of the unique mammals and birds are endangered. Acre-for-acre, the Philippines may have the most seriously threatened flora and fauna on earth. It is tragic that the biodiversity of the Philippines and the threat of its impending loss have been discovered simultaneously. Many and perhaps most of the species unique to the islands may become extinct before we learn that the welfare of the Philippines depends on their continued existence.
This web-site is a celebration of the wonderful natural diversity of this country, exploring how it developed and why it is now in such severe trouble. It is intended as a call for action not just to save the native plants and animals, but to protect the rain-forest habitat on which the Filipino people also depend for their economic and social well-being.