ENVIRONMENT AND NATURE
Known the world over as the Philippine’s last ecological frontier and World’s Best Island, the province of Palawan harbors vast tracts of tropical rainforests and a huge expanse of marine wilderness. Thick canopies of trees carpet mountain ranges running the length of the mainland. Fringing reefs and coral atolls open a new realm to discover under the clear waters surrounding this archipelago. Ribbons of meandering streams and rivers wind through the mountains, nurturing robust stands of mangrove in the lowlands before flowing out to the sea.
Palawan probably has more protected areas than any other province in the Philippines. The Calauit Safari Park in Busuanga is home to exotic and endemic species of animals that roam freely in its verdant hills and plains. Improvements will be made for the development of the park to enhance its potentials as tourism destination.
In the middle of the Sulu Sea lies the Tubbataha Reefs, a pair of coral atolls that was declared a National Marine Park by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 306 issued in August 1988. In 1993, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named it a World Heritage Site for its highly diverse collection of fishes and other marine life. The Tubbataha Reefs is also part of the Coral Triangle considered a supreme marine habitat in Asia.
Another World Heritage Site is the Puerto Princesa City Subterranean River National Park or commonly known as the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) along the west coast. Proclaimed as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, the PPUR has one of the longest underground rivers in the world. It is also noted for its old growth forests, cathedral caves, white sand beaches, limestone cliffs and unique flora and fauna.
In the south, Ursula Island is a haven for migratory and resident birds. Mt. Mantalingahan traversing five towns in the south was proclaimed a Protected Landscape area by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 1815 on June 23, 2009.
Palawan is the habitat of 232 endemic species. Some of these unique creatures are the metallic-colored peacock pheasant and the reclusive scaly anteater. In the forests and grasslands, the air resonates with the songs of more than 200 kinds of birds. Over 600 species of butterflies flutter around the mountains and fields of Palawan, attracted to some 1,500-host plants found here. Endangered sea turtles nest on white sand beaches, and the gentle dugong feed on the sea grass that abounds in Palawan’s waters.
Sprawled beneath the seas are nearly 11,000 square kilometers of coral reefs, representing more than 35% of the country’s coral reefs. Myriads of fish swim in these underwater gardens.