Hope for the Philippine Eagle and the Forests
by Lodel D. Magbanua, Advocacy
As the environment month of June comes to a close, the Haribon Foundation enjoins the whole country and the international community in celebrating the discovery and validation of the presence of a pair of adult Philippine Eagles and one juvenile in Mt. Mingan straddling the provinces of Nueva Ecija and the inclusion of the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wild life Sanctuary on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage List.
These two significant announcements breathe in hope to the deteriorating state of the Philippine environment and recent natural disasters and extreme weather conditions that ravaged the country.
The sighting and confirmation of the presence of the Philippine Eagle in Mt. Mingan is indicative of the viability of the area as habitat for the territorial and elegant Haring Ibon, the Philippine national bird. The area is rich in wildlife that serves as food source for the Philippine Eagle and the lush forest serves as its home.
With less than 250 pairs left (Bueser et al. 2003), the Philippine Eagle, hailed as the “world’s noblest flier” is on the threshold of extinction.
Mt. Hamiguitan is home to the Philippine Eagle in Mindanao. It is also home to a diverse wildlife like the Philippine warty pigs, Philippine brown deer, Philippine mossy-pygmy fruit bats, and 53 other bird species. Unique to the range is its unique pygmy forest made up of 100 year old bonsai trees. This is the first UNESCO Heritage site for Mindanao, the sixth in the country along with the Cordillera Rice Terraces, Puerto Princesa Underground River, Tubbataha Reef and the Vigan Baroque Churches.
Both areas are threatened by illegal logging, mining and wildlife trade. Communities, environment and natural resource advocates and concerned citizens welcome these new developments with renewed hope and energized spirit to conserve these natural endowments for future generations. Preserving the habitat of the Philippine Eagle and other wildlife species is preserving individual and community lives.
Mts. Mingan and Hamiguitan and the healthy forests within, provide important ecological services to preserve human life such as clean air, safe water, fertile soils and protection from extreme weathers. The country needs 54% forest cover to sustain and stabilize nature’s ecological services. Currently, the country is down to 24% according to the Department of Environment and natural resources (DENR) estimates according to their definition of forest.
Haribon Foundation calls on communities, public and private organizations, institutions and groups to support efforts to protect the country’s remaining natural forests and expand areas to protect forests.
Beyond tree planting activities, Haribon encourages the planting of indigenous and endemic tree species to the area. Currently, the two houses of Congress have pending bills updating P.D. 705, of the Forestry Code of the Philippines.
Haribon enjoins everyone to take part in the crafting of new and relevant laws through the Forest Resources Bill to preserve and sustainably manage the forest resources of the country.
About the Haribon Foundation
Haribon Foundation is the oldest and longest running membership based environmental organization committed to nature conservation through community empowerment and scientific excellence. It was established in 1972 as a bird-watching society and eventually became a full pledged conservation foundation in 1984. Haribon is coined from the Filipino words 'Hari' and 'Ibon' or 'Haring Ibon' which stands for the Philippine Eagle.
Contact: Lodel D. Magbanua, Senior Campaign Officer
+63 2 421 12 09 (Office)
+63 922 815 19 38 (mobile)
Photo Source (Mt. Hamiguitan): http://davaocitybybattad.blogspot.com/
Philippine Eagle photos by Kahlil Panopio | Haribon Foundation