Mt. Hilong-hilong

Mt. Hilong-hilong lies within the political boundaries of Agusan Norte, Agusan Del Sur and Surigao Del Sur provinces in the CARAGA Region. It contains one of the few remaining primary forests in the Philippines, making it a priority conservation area and a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) within the Eastern Mindanao Biodiversity Corridor (EMBC). The area covered two proclaimed watersheds in Agusan del Norte: the Cabadbaran River Natural Forest Reserve and the Taguibo River Watershed. Mt. Hilong-hilong is the highest peak in Cabadbaran with an elevation of 2,062 meters above sea level.


Housing the largest block of the country's remaining dipterocarp forests, Mt. Hilong-hilong is also an Important Bird Area (IBA). It has at least 120 species of birds, 59 of these are found only in the Philippines. (EMBC Conservation Framework 2008) Aside from being an important habitat for endemic bird species, Mt. Hilong-hilong is also a home of endemic frogs and reptiles, mammals, and globally threatened plant and floral species.


The rate of endemism is high for the Mt. Hilong-hilong IBA making it an important conservation priority considering that seven species of mammals, five species of birds, one species of herpetofauna, and 18 species of plants are included in the IUCN list of globally threatened species. (Haribon and MSU 2007) The globally threatened wildlife includes the Philippine Eagle, the country's national bird, and "Magkono" or the Philippine iron wood.


Among the threats to the conservation of this KBA are the loss of habitat for wildlife due to massive deforestation and timber extraction/poaching, mining, road expansion and development and slash-and-burn farming. It is alarming that a significant tract of forest on Mt. Hilong-hilong is covered by a Timber License Agreement (TLA). This means logging will continue in the area as long as the TLA is valid. (Haribon and MSU 2007)


The NewCAPP is recognizing the importance of this KBA both as a habitat for endangered and critical species in the country and as an important cultural and ancestral domain for the indigenous peoples such as the Mamanwa. Thus, the Project is working in coordination with the Surigao Economic Development Foundation, Inc. (SEDF), the Indigenous Peoples, and DENR Region 13 to strengthen the existing management regimes in the area.


References:

Haribon Foundation and Mindanao State University. 2007. Preliminary survey of the biodiversity composition of a logged-over lowland forest on Mt. Hilong-hilong, Tandag, Surigao del Sur.


PAWB-DENR. 2010. NewCAP Project Document.