Klima Kabisayaan: Biodiversity, ecosystem services, and climate

By Paula Bernasor


 Kasabot ka ba kung unsa ang ecosystem services?

Ecosystems, which refer to a community of living (plants, animals, and other organisms) and non-living (rocks, temperature, and humidity) parts interacting with each other in a particular unit of space, provide many of the basic and critical services that sustain life on the planet.

Biodiversity is the foundation of many ecosystem services that benefit humans, including water filtration, pollination, soil fertility, and pest control. When biodiversity declines, these services are also lost, leading to reduced productivity and sustainability of ecosystems. Moreover,  

Protecting biodiversity ensures that essential ecosystem services are available to support human well-being and economic development. Moreover, healthy ecosystems absorb and store carbon, helping to regulate the Earth’s climate. Additionally, biodiversity can help buffer against the impacts of extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, which are expected to become more frequent and severe due to climate change.
Biodiversity, ecosystem services, and climate are all interconnected, and protecting one requires protecting the others. It is critical that we recognize and prioritize their interdependence in our conservation efforts.
Financing biodiversity protection 
Although environmental awareness is rapidly improving in our contemporary world, ecosystem capital and its flow are still poorly understood.
The following are considered the six (6) major methods for valuing ecosystem services in monetary terms: 
  1. Avoided cost: Services allow society to avoid costs that would have been incurred in the absence of those services (e.g. waste treatment by wetland habitats avoids health costs)
  2. Replacement cost: Services could be replaced with man-made systems (e.g. restoration of the Catskill Watershed cost less than the construction of a water purification plant)
  3. Factor income: Services provide for the enhancement of incomes (e.g. improved water quality increases the commercial take of a fishery and improves the income of fishers)
  4. Travel cost: Service demand may require travel, whose costs can reflect the implied value of the service (e.g. value of the ecotourism experience is at least what a visitor is willing to pay to get there)
  5. Hedonic pricing: Service demand may be reflected in the prices people will pay for associated goods (e.g. coastal housing prices exceed that of inland homes)
  6. Contingent valuation: Service demand may be elicited by posing hypothetical scenarios that involve some valuation of alternatives (e.g. visitors willing to pay for increased access to national parks)
While we can argue that the value of biodiversity is infinite because we can’t live without it, a peer-reviewed study published in 1997 estimated the value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital to be between 16 to 54 trillion USD per year, with an average of USD33 trillion per year. 
There are tools and methodologies readily available to help the private sector value and assess ecosystem services, including the Corporate Ecosystem Services Review, the Artificial Intelligence for Environment & Sustainability (ARIES), the Natural Value Initiative, and the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services & Tradeoffs (InVEST).
Ecosystem-based adaptation
Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is a strategy for community development and environmental management that seeks to use an ecosystem services framework to help communities adapt to the effects of climate change. The Convention on Biological Diversity defines it as “the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change”, which includes the use of “sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems, as part of an overall adaptation strategy that takes into account the multiple social, economic and cultural co-benefits for local communities.”
Visayans, like all individuals and communities, can play an important role in protecting ecosystem services in their region and in deploying EbA interventions. Here are some ways Visayans can contribute:
Support local farmers who use sustainable farming practices that promote soil health and biodiversity and reduce chemical use. This helps maintain ecosystem services such as pollination and pest control, as well as support local economies. This is why Climate Reality Leader Elizabeth Lace Viojan is championing sustainable agriculture in Eastern Visayas while Fel Cadiz is empowering marginalized, fisheries-dependent communities in the Asia Pacific region to adapt to climate change.
  • Participate in reforestation activities or support organizations working to conserve forests and other natural areas. This helps maintain biodiversity, regulate water cycles, and mitigate climate change. Visayas Climate Reality Leader Katreen Castillo founded a women-led regenerative land use movement in Northern Samar. Dr. Rebecca Tandug continues to lead the conservation of the Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park in Northern Panay Island while Lisa Digdigan, Daphne Marie Siega, and Jessryn Marie Lim are leading various marine conservation projects across Central Visayas.
  • Practice proper waste disposal, recycling, and reducing the use of single-use plastics. This helps keep ecosystems healthy and reduce harm to wildlife and humans.  Climate Reality Leaders Dave Albao, Victor Rufo, and Carolyn Kay Mante are pioneering circular economies in Western and Eastern Visayas while Mitzi Solitana-Penaflorida and Elizar Sabinay, Jr. are working on strengthening policies to curb plastic waste use and improve solid waste management in Iloilo and Cebu Province.
  • Promote responsible tourism that minimizes the impact on local ecosystems, supports the local economy, and supports the regeneration of ecosystems. This can be done by supporting locally-owned businesses, avoiding activities that harm wildlife or damage ecosystems, and respecting local cultures and customs. Visayas Climate Reality leaders have also joined Pamumuno Lab-Cebu to create a regenerative Cebu. 
  • Join community initiatives that promote sustainable development, conservation, and environmental education. This helps build awareness and support for protecting ecosystem services and ensures that these efforts are sustainable and impactful. Climate Reality Leader Hermogenes Gacho is also actively sharing indigenous knowledge, especially in Ethnobotany across the Panay Peninsula. Whether in West, Central, or East Visayas, Climate Reality Leaders are continuously working on engaging local communities and promoting better environmental stewardship. We still continue to host several Klima Eskwela and Poets for Climate: Pebble Poetry Workshops and community screenings of the documentary film entitled “Delikado” across various locations in the Visayas.
Overall, protecting ecosystem services requires a collective effort from individuals, communities, and organizations.
Visayans can play a critical role in protecting the natural resources that support their lives and livelihoods.



Paula Bernasor is the Visayas Coordinator of The Climate Reality Project Philippines. She is a Climate Reality Philippines Leader and Mentor, Chapter Director for Startup Grind Cebu, and a volunteer for Project Sharklink and Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project. She previously worked as an Associate for Partnerships for Rare Organisation’s Fish Forever in the Philippines. She started Project Library in the Philippines, a grassroots movement that helps underprivileged communities in remote areas gain access to books and reading materials, as well as Ocean Love Philippines, which uses social media to spread awareness on pressing environmental issues and to promote a sustainable lifestyle and the circular economy. 


Klima Kabisayaan is a space that aims to amplify the climate stories and initiatives of the more than 300 Pinoy Climate Reality Leaders in Visayas.

It is one of the monthly columns launched by The Climate Reality Project Philippines to elevate the climate discourse and strengthen climate action across all regions in the Philippines.