I’m excited to announce that Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has extended the area of Palawan under formal protection and conservation by 30 percent with the recent signing of Proclamation 1815 last June 23, which officially created the 120,000-hectare (nearly 300,000 acre) Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL).
Mt. Mantalingahan is home to indigenous Palaw’ans and is the highest peak along the central spine of mountains in southern Palawan. This largely forested mountain range is critical for providing various benefits to local communities with an estimated Total Economic Value (TEV) of $5.5 billion.
These ecosystems services include water, soil conservation, flood control, carbon sequestration, non-timber forest products and the high potential of waterfalls, caves and other potential areas for tourism. The watersheds within MMPL are extremely valuable to the lowland agricultural economy in the area as well.
The protection of all the 36 watersheds of the MMPL will not only ensure the integrity and health of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems but also the marine ecosystems along the South China Sea on the west and the Sulu Sea on the eastern flanks of Palawan where these watersheds drain. Both seas were declared as priority seascapes of the Philippines during the CTI Leaders’ Summit in Manado, Indonesia last May 2009. The MMPL is also an area of high biodiversity – Palawan holds many rare and recently discovered species.
We believe that Mt. Mantalingahan has finally received the recognition and protection that it deserves. Its proclamation as protected area is a very important step in ensuring the well-being, not only of the rich biological resources, but more importantly, the well-being of the people of Palawan.
Romeo Trono is the Executive Director of CI-Philippines