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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 5) — Investing in nature is key to conserving biodiversity and easing poverty, conservation groups said as the world marks Environment Day on Saturday.

In a statement, Malampaya Foundation Inc. (MFI) and Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. (MBCFI) said environmental degradation worsens poverty and exposes people to risks of climate change such as typhoons and droughts.

The groups flagged irresponsible fishing practices, marine pollution, deforestation, and threats to endemic species.

“Our survival and prosperity are dependent on biodiversity. Investing in conservation is investing in our future,” MFI executive director Karen Agabin was quoted as saying in the statement.

MBCFI said it is working with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the conservation of the Tamaraw or Mindoro dwarf buffalo as only around 480 are left in the world. The group is also hoping to tap the local government, national agencies, and communities for the massive reforestation of Mindoro island.

An issue hounding the marine ecosystem is the “increasing introduction of invasive plant and animal species,” MBCFI executive director Grace Diamante.

She said the introduction of tilapia fingerlings into a lake may be initially “deemed a food solution,” but it actually creates an “imbalance in the lake’s ecosystem if the tilapia thrives at the expense of existing species.”

Both groups called on Filipinos to take part in ecological conservation and consider it as a means to reduce poverty.