|Featured Protected Area: Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape|
Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL) is located 140 km southeast of Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan. The Protected Landscape is bounded by Victoria Peak in the north and Mt. Bulanjao in the south; from 9° 9’53.42” to 117° 59’52.47” North latitude and 8° 40’28.16” to 117° 26’55.52” East longitude.
MMPL is a mountain range situated in southern Palawan. It encompasses five (5) municipalities of Quezon and Rizal. On the Western side are the Municipalities Sofronio Española, Brooke’s Point and Bataraza on the Eastern side. It is very accessible by land transportation. Several buses, air-conditioned vans and jeepneys ply to and from the City of Puerto Princesa City to Southern composite Municipalities of Mt. Mantalingahan.
Topography and Elevation
The terrain range is rugged with slopes of over 50% which covers most of the area above 500 m. Slopes of 36% or more predominate at altitudes over 100-300m. Most of the steeper slopes are covered by natural forest. The southern massif is more extensive and includes Mt. Mantalingahan, the region’s highest point at 2,085 meter above sea level. In the East and South, in Bataraza, Brookes Point and Española, respectively, the slopes terminate abruptly, giving way to fairly flat land. While in the North and through the West, Española, Quezon and Rizal, the steep slopes are separated by generally rolling terrain.
Geology and Soil
Much of the Mantalingahan range is of limestone with outcrops of karst e.g. in Quezon and caves. The higher parts of the range including Mantalingahan Peak and ridge of Malis Peak are intrusive ultramatic part of Palawan ophiolite complex.
Most part of the area in the east side belongs to inceptisols group with high fertility. Areas in the west side belong to inceptisols group but with moderately fertile soil. On the eastern side of the range there are bands of cement and relict beach deposits in the form of sand and gravel beds close to the coast.
The climate of the Southern Palawan is characterized by the lack of pronounced wet and dry seasons, although heavy rains are expected from May to December and light rains from January to April. Annual rainfall varies, averaging 1,500 mm in coastal areas and three times as much in upland areas, although data is patchy. Temperatures are steady year round, ranging from 20° to 30° C at the lower elevations.
South Palawan contains approximately 60 principal rivers, of which 45 drain from the Mantalingahan range. There are 33 watersheds in the MMPL, mostly within Rizal and Brooke’s Point, two of the watersheds are micro-sized (with an area of less than 1,000 ha), 21 are small (1,000 – 10,000 ha), and 10 are medium (10,000 – 50,000 ha).
There are 11 vegetative cover types. Forest covers about 100,000 hectares approximately 79% of the total land area in the MMPL – three quarters of which is primary forest. The majority of forests are in the mountain range itself, while virtually all the lowland areas have been deforested. Forest clearance continues through the hilly terrain of Española, Quezon and Rizal, extending up accessible river valleys deep in to the mountain range.
The MMPL is rich in plant biodiversity, with at least 351 plant species, distributed across 214 genera and 92 families. Of these, 16 species were identified as economically important, half of which are considered threatened and endangered. During the 2007 study, CI discovered eight (8) plants species previously undescribed by scientist and at least five (5) species were newly recorded for Palawan.
The forested area of Mt. Mantalingahan is made-up of important tree species which make up the habitats of different fauna of Palawan. Important hardwood species in Rizal and Quezon are ipil (Intsia bijuga), nato (Palaqiuum luzoniense), manggis (Koompassia excels), apitrong (Dipterocarpus gfrandiflora), amugis (Koordersiodendron pinnatum), malugai (Pometia pinnata), durian (Durio zibethinus) and dao (Dracontomelum dao). On the other side, in Sofronio Española, Brooke’s Point and Bataraza, important forest tree species are: apitong (Dipterocarpus grandiflora), malugai (Pometia pinnata), amugis (Koordersiodendron pinnatum), nato (Palaquium luzoniense), lomarao (Swintonia foxworthy) and Agoho del Monte (Casuariana equisetifolia).
Ninety-five 95 species of vertebrates, comprising 17 species of mammals from 9 families and 15 genera, 45 birds and 42 genera, 23 reptiles in 9 families and 10 amphibians, in 4 families and 7 genera. IUCN lists 16 of these as restricted-range species, 19 as vulnerable, 2 as endangered and 2 as critically endangered. During the 2007 study, CI discovered a new species of finch (Erythrura prasina) and a new species of Shrew (as yet unnamed) and, as well as a species of Pouch bat (Sacolaimus sacolaimus) previously unrecorded for Palawan.
Wildlife is relatively distributed within the protected area. The indigenous communities made use of some of the important bird and animal species to barter prime commodities from traders. Pet birds like talking mynah, blue-naped parrot and the Philippine cockatoo are heavily traded because of the price these animals command in the market outside Palawan. Mammals like the squirrels, bearcats, monkeys and mousedeers are also traded.
The communities living within and near the MMPL exhibit mixed cultural practices since most of them are IP’s and came from different places with the region. Their means of living is the conventional method and indigenous knowledge in farming and gathering of forest products.
The municipalities of Bataraza, Quezon and Sofronio Española were once a part of the Municipalities of Brooke’s Point and Rizal a part of Quezon. But with the trend in urbanization new municipalities were created.
The Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL) encompasses 36 barangays. The present total population of the area is about 4,436 distributed sporadically across the 36 barangays.
The MMPL is a major source of water for domestic, agriculture and fisheries of the surrounding five (5) Municipalities.
Ecotourism and Recreation Potentials
At present, tourism in the MMPL is minimal, however, the potential cultural tourism and recreational use of the MMPL is high. The unique natural features and biological importance of Mantalingahan range offers potential eco-tourism and forest recreation opportunities that could be developed and offered to visitors. Eco-tourism will also provide alternative sources of income for the community.
The LGU have included in their plan activities to enhance tourism in their areas, Mt. Mantalingahan is one interesting area where tourism could be heightened to encourage tourist both local and foreign to come and visit. Regularly, researchers, tourists and enthusiasts visit interesting places in Mt. Mantalingahan. These places include the Tao’t Bato Community in Ransang, Rizal, Kamantian in Brooke’s Point, the Kapangyan Waterfalls in Bataraza and so many others areas with different natural features.
The majority (98%) of the IP’s have farms within the Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape, making it their largest source of income.
Large areas of primary forest could be made available for environmental and social research. The potential to develop mutually beneficial (including financial) arrangements with universities and/or pharmaceutical companies is untapped.
MMPL is an important source of medicinal herbs for personal use. Most IP’s receive medical services from the Barangay Health Workers, Barangay Nutrition Scholars, medical missions and private clinics in the cities and barangays (although scarce in some rural areas), some IP’s especially those in IP-dominant communities, continue to use traditional healing practices and herbal medicine.
The Regional Executive Director
PASu Clarissa P. Pador