AS June’s Environment Month comes to a close, the Haribon Foundation celebrates with the Philippines and the international community for the discovery and validation of Philippine Eagles, a pair of adult and one juvenile. The eagles are confirmed to be in Mt. Mingan straddling the provinces of Nueva Ecija.
Besdies this, the recognition of Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wild Life Sanctuary included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage List, is also another environmental feat that the country has recently achieved.
These two significant announcements breathe in hope to save the deteriorating state of the Philippine environment brought by 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, 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.
These are 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 percent forest cover to sustain and stabilize nature’s ecological services. Currently, the country is down to 24 percent 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 encourages 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.