Identification of upland rainforest species in the Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park buffer zone

Cecil Valmores

The Mount Kitanglad Range is located in Northern Mindanao in the Philippines, and contains the second highest peak in the country. It is still densely forested and is considered to be one of the critical sanctuaries for the conservation of the mega-diversity of flora and fauna that the Philippines is famous for. Current research has already identified over 100 species of endemic birds, mammals, and reptiles alone. The range is the source of several major river systems that cover much of Northern Mindanao and pass through several major cities. On the lower slopes of the range and surrounding areas there are a large number of poor farming communities. Many of these are indigenous tribal groups who have inhabited the area for many generations, although lowland migrants are becoming more prevalent. The Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park [MKRNP] was declared in order to conserve the abundant flora and fauna found in the area and maintain the watersheds that the range provides. It is classified as one of 10 priority protected areas within the Philippines. Surrounding the Natural Park itself is a buffer zone in which human activities are heavily regulated. The primary aim of the proposed project is to gather comprehensive technical information and local knowledge regarding the species of endemic trees and plants still found within the MKRNP buffer zone. The project will help to maintain some of these species through seedbanking and the development of a community seed nursery. In addition, interactions between local communities and their surrounding environment will be studied along with remaining cultural beliefs regarding nature. Furthermore, the project will encourage responsible forest practices by providing community members with training on forest ecology and forest management.