Composed of a sprawling network of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines contain lowland tropical rainforest, wetlands, mangroves and thousands of miles of coastline. The astounding variety of habitats makes the country a thriving hotspot for biodiversity with the highest rate of new animal species being discovered, as 15 new mammal species were discovered just in the last 10 years.
Despite the nation’s incredible biodiversity value, many of its natural resources remain unprotected. Smaller islands within the Philippines are rich in rare and endemic species, like Dinagat Island off the north coast of Mindanao, and they are particularly at risk. Recognized as a Key Biodiversity and Important Bird Area with several rare and endemic species, Dinagat Island remains without any formal government-sanctioned protected areas. The island provides a haven to the Critically Endangered Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat, the shrew-like Dinagat Gymnure and an endemic form of the Philippine Tarsier.
To save the island’s unique and endangered wildlife, Rainforest Trust is working with local partner Green Mindanao to create four new protected areas that will secure much-needed forest and coastal habitat. Given the global downturn in commodities, the locally progressive government is poised to seize this opportunity to work together with local mining companies for the mutual benefit of both conservation and sustainable development on Dinagat Island.
Known for its lush rainforests, Dinagat Island is home to 400 plant and over 100 bird species, including the Vulnerable Philippine Duck and Mindanao Broadbill and the Near Threatened Writhed Hornbill. Twenty species of vertebrates and 13 species of plants that occur here are threatened with extinction.
The four proposed protected areas are home to a wealth of unique and rare wildlife species. Found only in the Philippines, the Endangered Giant Golden-crowned Flying Fox, one of the largest bats in the world with more than a five-foot wingspan, today faces the real possibility of extinction due to poaching and destruction of forest habitat. Additionally, the targeted areas will safeguard at least two incredibly rare and endemic species of rodents, including the Critically Endangered Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat and the Endangered Dinagat Gymnure. Also found in the area, the Near Threatened Philippine Tarsier may soon be classified as a distinct and threatened species of primate.
A wide variety of marine life is also found along Dinagat Island’s many bays, lagoons and coastal habitats, such as Dugongs, Manta Rays, Whale Sharks, sea turtles and dolphins.