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National Parks and protected areas in the Philippines

Tuesday 21 June 2005, by catseye

In order to preserve its national heritage, the Philippine government implemented a combined act of proper education and law enforcement to deal with the depressing issue on country’s devastated natural resources. The government has established conservation programs for the few endangered and rare species left in our receding rainforests. Among these species are the Tamaraws (dwarf species of water buffalo), Philippine eagles, marine turtles, Philippine crocodiles, sea cow, and the Philippine deer. This consciousness spread among people who realized the need to conserve our natural resources. Log exportation has been prohibited, though not completely, at least a total log ban on areas such as Palawan, where most rare species inhabit, has been fully enforced. Below is a list of established national parks to shelter plant, animals and marine species of the Philippines:

Mt. Isarog, located in Camarines Sur, Bicol- is the region’s second highest volcano at about 1,966 meter above sea level. It is a dormant volcano and home to some of the rarest animal and plant species in the country. A scattered community of Agta tribe, one of the country’s earliest settlers, have been seen residing the interiors of the mountain.

Mt. Iglit-Baco, Mindoro. This is where the endangered Tamaraw can be found- the wild dwarf species of water buffalo. Due to massive and destructive farming in the area, reduction of grasslands resulted to loss of habitat of these animals and as well the Mangyan tribe- a cultural minority group originated in Mindoro.

Palanan Wilderness, Northeast Luzon- encompasses 200,000 ha. of prime virgin forest, revealing 10% of the country’s protected wooodlands. The area shelters more than 200 species of birds including a small gathering of the Philippine Eagle. Along the coast of Sierra Madre, a small community of the Dumagat tribe resides with logging as their prime source of livelihood. Another group settling in the area are negritos.

Mount Guiting-Guiting, Romblon- Because of its isolated location, this impressive mountain has protected some of the rarest species of trees and wild animals, such as fruit bats, large monkeys and a hundred species of birds.

El Nido Marine Reserve, Palawan- A popular tourist destination, this is where the towering limestone cliffs and sugar-like white sand beaches can be found.

Coron Island, Palawan- the Island is covered with unexplored rainforests, stunning cliffs and secluded lakes. Aside from its rich wildlife and marine residents, Tagbanua tribe, Coron’s indigenous community, as well inhabits mostly the interiors of its mountains.

Mt. Pulag, Mountain Province- because of its easy treks and grass carpeted slopes, this mountain is a known trekking destination for mountaineering groups. Mt Pulag, or sometimes called Mt Pulog, is the second highest peak in the Philippines, where the borders of the provinces of Ifugao, Benguet and Nueva Viscaya meet at its summits. The mountain is a natural habitat of endemic species of wild plants, such as dwarf bamboo and the benguet pine, and wild species of birds, long haired fruit bats, Philippine deer and giant bushy tailed cloud rats.

Mt. Mayon, Albay- possessing a majestic height and the most perfect cone, this volcano is also known for its frequent eruptions.

Bulusan Volcano, Sorsogon- a sleeping volcano and home to some of the most spectacular animals and plant species in the country.

Turtle Islands- is a group of small islands named Boan, Lihiman, Langaan, Great Bakkungan, Taganak and Baguan. They are all located at the southwestern tip of the Philippines in the mid of Palawan and Tawi-tawi mainland, and northeast of Sabah Malaysia. The islands are known primarily as a nesting ground for sea turtles (Chelonia mydas and Erethmochelys Imbricata). Monitor lizards as well have been seen residing in the area.

Around Great Bakkungan Island, the Malay Box Turtle which was never seen at other islands has been observed visiting its shores. Presence of sea snakes and terrestial snakes have also been recorded in the island.

Twin Lakes, Southern Negros- the Twin Lakes (Lake Balinsasayao and Lake Danao) are two deep crater lakes separated by a narrow ridge and surrounded by lush selections of flora and fauna. A scenic spot to visit, paddling through the lakes and fishing for dinner with friends is a remarkable experience. The aerial view of the lakes can be best viewed by trekking the slopes of the surrounding ridges.

Mount Kanlaon, Negros- located in the central highlands of Negros, this mountain is home to various species of ferns, lichens, and orchids. It is also inhabited by numerous species of tropical birds. Among them are hundred endemic species of bleeding heart pigeons and the nearing to extinction, Negros Fruit Doves. Others are Barblers and Warblers, Doves, Bulbuls, Flycatchers and woodpeckers.

Mt. Apo National Park, Mindanao- is a dormant volcano and the Philippines highest mountain (2954m). As a known habitat of the national bird, Philippine Eagle, its forested slopes were protected for the conservation of this endangered bird.

Mount Arayat, Central Luzon- is a sleeping volcano and a mountain that is sheltering a variety of wild animals. Right at its foot is a picnic site surrounded by waterfalls and numerous species of plant life.

Sohoton Natural Bridge, Samar- located at the southern tip of Samar Island, the Sohoton National Park features a natural stone bridge and was discovered protecting caves and rainforests. Recently considered a tourists attraction, Sohoton District in the municipality of Basey, Samar preserved this naturally-carved structure made of limestone pillars straddling between two mountains, and where underneath of it is a river that flows towards a waterfalls. Inside the Sohoton Cave awaits a dazzling sight of rock formations uniquely designed by nature alone.

Apo Reef, Occidental Mindoro- can be reached easily from west of Sablayan and from the northeast of Calamian group in Palawan, this proclaimed marine and national park possess a wide array of habitats which are valuable for scientific studies and a perfect destination for environmental tours. Numerous species of fauna and flora are discovered inhabiting the sandy beaches, beach forests, coral reefs, algae flat, mangroves and sea grass of the reef. The reef’s underwater terrain boasts for its unique coral walls, caves and drop offs. They are home to some species of mantas, sharks, school of jacks and snappers, and groups of tropical aquarium fishes and hundreds more marine species. The island as well serves as a nesting ground for numerous species of migratory and resident breeder birds, and a rich territory of endemic wildlife and plant life species such as Nicobar pigeons, sea turtles, sea grass and algae.

Lake Mahagnao, Leyte- Because of its abundant wildlife, Lake Mahagnao is a popular destination for camping and environmental tours. The pristine lake is surrounded by refreshing sights of Ferns, lilies, aerial plants, tropical shrubs, and hundreds of birds residing throughout the primary forest encompassing the entire mountains of Leyte. Trekkers enjoy the river system coming through Mahagnao that goes down to a stunning falls. If planning to stay overnight, a resthut at the shore of the lake is big enough to accomodate 30 to 40 campers.

Lake Danao, Western Leyte- a hunter’s paradise nestling in the middle of thickly forested hills of Ormoc City, this 3 km long lake at an elevation of 1600 meters, is known to inhabit wild animals, including the giant eel.

St. Paul Subterranean, Palawan- is the longest underground river in the world that features cathedral-like caverns and domes, and stalactite and stalagmites that resembles with familiar images. It is located 81 km north of Puerto Princesa City which has precipitous mountains of mostly marbles and limestones. The entire surrounding, however, is covered with tropical rainforest. Declared as a national park in 1971, this pride of Puerto Princesa became a known destination for bird-watching. Some of Palawan’s endemic birds such as Palawan Pheasant Peacock and Philippine Cockatoo have been sought residing in the park.

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