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Priority Sites for Conservation in the Philippines: Key Biodiversity Areas

Priority Sites for Conservation in the Philippines: Key Biodiversity Areas

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Published by Denise Fontanilla
Conservation International Philippines, Department of
Environment and Natural Resources-Protected
Areas and Wildlife Burea and Haribon Foundation.
2006. Priority Sites for Conservation in the
Philippines: Key Biodiversity Areas. Quezon City,
Philippines. 24pp.
Conservation International Philippines, Department of
Environment and Natural Resources-Protected
Areas and Wildlife Burea and Haribon Foundation.
2006. Priority Sites for Conservation in the
Philippines: Key Biodiversity Areas. Quezon City,
Philippines. 24pp.

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Published by: Denise Fontanilla on Feb 24, 2011
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12/16/2013

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Priority Sites orConservation in the Philippines:
Key Biodiversity Areas
 
Department of Environmentand Natural Resources -
PROTECTED AREASAND WILDLIFE BUREAU
 
Introduction
B
iodiversity occurs at multiple scales o ecologicalorganization, rom genes all the way up to theentire biosphere. To eectively conserve biodiversity as a whole, we must ensure that conservation action o-cuses on its key components: on the individual species atthe greatest risk o extinction, and on specifc sites andlandscapes that are most important or their protection.Using a transparent, data-driven process to identiy thesetargets provides us with the scientifc underpinning orocusing conservation investments geographically and the-matically. The targets also provide a baseline against whichthe success o investments can be measured.The Philippines, with its more than 20,000 endemic spe-cies o plants and animals, is one o the world’s 17 “mega-diversity” countries, which collectively claim two-thirdso the earth’s biological diversity within their boundaries.However, the Philippines is also one o 34 global biodiver-sity hotspots, meaning that the nation’s high biodiversity and endemism is under a high level o threat. Less thansix percent o original orest remains, and 491 species arelisted as globally threatened on the 2004 IUCN Red Listo Threatened Species. The primary threats to Philip-pine biodiversity are habitat alteration and loss caused by destructive resource use, development activities and hu-man population pressure. Specifc threats include mining,logging and land conversion or industrial, agricultural andurban development.Site conservation is clearly one o the most importantand successul tactics or reducing global biodiversity loss.Governmental commitments to site conservation includethe Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), whichenjoins Parties to establish “a system o protected areas orareas where special measures need to be taken to conservebiological diversity” and the World Summit or SustainableDevelopment (WSSD) Plan o Implementation to “pro-mote and support initiatives or hot spot areas and otherareas essential or biodiversity, and promote the develop-ment o national and regional ecological networks andcorridors.” Saeguarding these key areas requires a variety o governance approaches, including national parks, com-munity and indigenous conservation areas, and privatereserves — the best approach will vary rom place to place. A network o such sites, coupled with species-specifc ac-tions and anchored within a matrix o compatible land uses,provides the best way to ensure the conservation o globally important biodiversity.The “Key Biodiversity Areas” (KBA) approach presents anappropriate ramework or identiying fne-scale conserva-tion priorities in the Philippines. These globally signifcantsites provide the building blocks or landscape-level con-servation planning and or maintaining eective ecologicalnetworks aimed at preventing biodiversity loss. Govern-ments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, the privatesector, and other stakeholders can use KBAs as a tool orexpanding the protected area network in the Philippines,and, more generally, or targeting conservation action onthe ground.
Key Biodiversity Areas: Approach and Criteria
The goal o the KBA approach is to identiy, document,and protect networks o sites that are critical or the con-servation o globally important biodiversity. Here, a “sitemeans an area o any size that can be delimited, and actu-ally or potentially managed or conservation.KBAs are identifed using simple, standard criteria based onthe conservation planning principles o vulnerability andirreplaceability. Vulnerability is measured by the confrmedpresence o one or more globally threatened species, whileirreplaceability is determined through the presence o geo-graphically concentrated species.
Criterion based on vulnerability 
Criterion 1: Globally threatened species.
 
KBAs based onthis criterion are identifed by the regular occurrenceo one or more globally threatened species — thoseassessed as Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered(EN), or Vulnerable (VU) according to IUCNRed List.
Criteria based on irreplaceability 
Criterion 2: Restricted-range species 
 
(RR)
.
KBAs basedon this criterion hold a signifcant proportion (pro-visionally set at 5%) o the global population o oneor more species with a limited global range size (pro-visionally set at 50,000 square kilometers). Both themaximum range size and threshold appropriate orthis criteria need urther testing. In the Philippines,
Priority Sites or Conservation in the Philippines:Key Biodiversity Areas
 
due to a lack o data on range and population size(both global and local), endemic species were usedas a proxy or restricted-range species.
Criterion 3: Congregatory species 
(CC)
.
KBAs basedon this criterion hold a signifcant proportion(provisionally set at 1%) o the global populationo a congregatory species, defned as a species thatgathers in large numbers at specifc sites duringsome stage in their lie cycle (or example, breed-ing aggregations).
Identiying and Delineating KBAs in thePhilippines
 KBA identifcation in the Philippines is based on the117 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) identifed or the coun-try by the Haribon Foundation and Birdlie International,and the 206 Conservation Priority Areas (CPAs) identifedthrough the Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Prior-ity-setting Program. The main challenge in identiyingKBAs was to refne the results o these previous initiatives,specifcally, to incorporate data or threatened and restrict-ed-range species o reshwater fshes, amphibians, reptiles,birds, and mammals so as to document the presence o these species in existing sites and to identiy new KBAs where needed. The 2004 IUCN Red List provided the listo threatened species or the country, as well as data onconservation status, distribution, threats, key contacts, andreerences. Additional data, especially point locality dataor each species, were obtained rom the published litera-ture, experts/scientists, and museum collections.Spatial data used to delineate KBA boundaries includedavailable point localities and distribution inormation orspecies, IBA and CPA polygons, inormation on habitattype and extent, settlement patterns, topography, andprotected area (PA) boundaries. In some cases, existingIBA, CPA, or PA boundaries did not have to be modifedin delineating the KBAs, since data or the target speciesell within the boundaries o the original site. In othercases, existing IBA or PA boundaries were modifed asneeded to incorporate nearby habitat or target species, toomit highly developed areas, and generally to incorporatethe best available land cover and land use data. AdditionalKBAs were based solely on the confrmed presence o tar-get species, and delineated using relevant habitat and landcover data.Experts reviewed the preliminary KBAs during severalinormal meetings, and modifcations to the boundaries were made based on their recommendations. Since KBA identifcation and delineation is an iterative process, theboundaries can be modifed and new KBAs added as newdata become available. For instance, data or plant speciesare currently being incorporated. A total o 128 KBAs were identifed or 209 globally threatened, and 419 endemic species o reshwater fshes,amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, as well as or62 species o congregatory birds. All species protectedthrough the Wildlie Act (Republic Act 9147) are repre-sented within at least one KBA. The KBAs cover a total o 6,008,813 hectares or approximately 20% o the total landarea o the Philippines. Currently, 45 o the 128 KBAs(35%) beneft rom ofcial saeguard status in the Philip-pines, having been ormally established as protected areasunder the legal ramework o the National Integrated Pro-tected Areas System Act (Republic Act 7586). The remain-ing 83 KBAs (65%) lack ormal governmental protection. Areas that are suspected to be important, but or which we have no conclusive data to satisy KBA criteria weredesignated as
candidate KBAs
. These include sites thathave habitat suitable or target species, but that have notyet been surveyed, as well as sites with only historicaldata or target species. Candidate KBAs are priorities orresearch; i new data or surveys confrm the presence o target species within these sites, they too will become pri-orities or conservation action (KBAs). Forest cover datahave been very useul in identiying candidate KBAs, andhelp to support a precautionary management approach insome areas (e.g., prohibition o development or logging). A total o 51 candidate KBAs have been identifed or thePhilippines. The survival o many target species, particu-larly Critically Endangered and highly restricted rangespecies, may depend on confrming the status o thesecandidate KBAs.Given that unding or conservation investment is limited,and given that some KBAs require saeguarding moreurgently than others, it may be useul to prioritize amongstthe 128 sites identifed to date. However, a large amounto additional biological and socioeconomic data wouldbe required to undertake a thorough and accurate priori-tization based on irreplaceability and vulnerability. Also,dierent stakeholders may have slightly varying priorities.Thus, a ull-scale prioritization has not been attempted.Nevertheless, a subset o sites does emerge as the very highest priorities. These sites are termed Alliance or ZeroExtinction (AZE) sites. The AZE is a consortium o over50 conservation organizations worldwide, devoted to con-serving sites that are the last remaining strongholds or oneor more Critically Endangered or Endangered species. Theloss o an AZE site would result in the extinction o one ormore species, making these extremely urgent priorities orconservation. Ten AZE sites have been identifed or thePhilippines (see KBA matrix).

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