PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, Philippines?President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has declared Mt. Mantalingahan in southern Palawan protected, securing some 120,000 hectares of mostly old-growth forest in an area severely threatened by mining projects and illegal logging.
The President signed Proclamation 1815 on June 23, which created the Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL), according to a statement of the nonprofit Conservation International Philippines on Saturday.
The group said the proclamation was important in protecting the watersheds of southern Palawan and the highly diverse wildlife in the area.
?The 33 watersheds of the MMPL will not only ensure the integrity and health of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems but also importantly, the marine ecosystems, particularly along the South China Sea on the west and the Sulu Sea on the eastern flanks of Palawan where these watersheds drain,? Romeo Trono, CI country director, said in the statement.
The delineation of Mantalingahan responds to the international commitment of the Philippine government to expand the coverage of protected areas in the country in response to global concern over climate change and the environment, he said.
?The MMPL also adds to the country?s list of protected areas, and moves the Philippines closer to our 2010 target for the Convention of Biological Diversity. It is of high biodiversity importance, being one of the 17 terrestrial key biodiversity areas and one of 11 important bird areas in Palawan, as well as one of only 10 sites of the Alliance for Zero Extinction in the Philippines,? Trono said.
In 1998, the provincial government declared to protect the mountain as an important site and created a planning body representing five municipalities that share its boundaries.
Conflicts have arisen in some pro-mining communities that oppose the declaration.