IFSS 2015: The Philippines in focus

The Philippines, a country of more than 100 million people, is a vibrant island nation in south-east Asia. Consisting of 7,107 islands, it is a diverse nation with a multitude of ethnicities and cultures. The Philippines is the host nation of IFSA’s largest annual event, the International Forestry Students’ Symposium (IFSS). So here is your quick intro into this amazing nation.

Over the last few decades, forestry has played a significant role in shaping the fFilipino landscape and their way of life. The forestry sector is a significant force in their economy due to its sheer size, with forests covering approximately 53% of the nations land area. The forested catchments, or watersheds, are the nations primary source of fresh water for domestic, agricultural, industrial and commercial uses, demonstrating the high value of these assets. As a result of the forestry sectors overlap with economic, social and environmental themes, it has been well studied, assessed and analysed.

In recent years their forests have come under the spotlight. The Philippines are renowned for their rainforests which span their extensive coastlines offering habitat, breeding grounds and refuge for a diverse range of birds, plants, and other animals. In fact, the nation has many species not found anywhere else in the world including; 1,100 land vertebrates, over 100 mammal species and 170 bird species. There is a high level of endemism, and it is a location seeing high rates of new species discovery. Overall the nation is considered a top ten biologically mega-diverse location.

It isn’t a location without its challenges. In recent years there has been a strong push to address issues which have degraded this nations beautiful forests. These issues, such as illegal logging, land use change for agriculture and general deforestation, are not unique challenges to this nation. The Philippines is actively working to address these issues, partnering with neighbouring countries to achieve collective improvement across the board.

The Philippines is a unique location and will no doubt prove an excellent destination for IFSS in 2015. IFSS will provide an excellent chance for today’s forestry students to engage with local students and professionals to learn more about the challenges this nation faces. To build networks for the future, to collaborate our skills and develop new approaches to addressing the issues of tomorrow, no matter the country. To take in the amazing sights that the Philippines has to offer, to view their amazingly diverse forests and take in one of the most bio-diverse locations in the world.

See you at IFSS 2015! #EnsuringLifeForAll

I'm Jesse and I was the IFSA President for the 2016-2017 year. I am an Australian, based with the University of Melbourne Forest Ecosystems Student Society (FESS) LC, who studied a masters in forestry and I now work in forest policy.