Forest Foundation Philippines primarily provides grants to support projects in the country’s most critical forest landscapes: Sierra Madre, Palawan, Samar and Leyte, and Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental. However, the Foundation also supports projects at the National level, covering the conservation of small islands, mangroves, critical habitats, and urban forests.
The Sierra Madre Mountain Range is the longest mountain range in the Philippines. It forms the backbone of Luzon, running from the provinces of Cagayan in the north to Quezon in the south. A lofty, unbroken wall of mountains greets the Pacific Ocean to the east and acts as nature’s shield against the onslaught of super typhoons and storm surges.
- Total Land Area: 1.4 million hectares
- Passes through Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and CALABARZON regions, specifically touching 10 provinces.
- At least 40% of the remaining 22% of forest cover in the Philippines is found in the mountain range.
- Has over 90 different species of endemic animals.
- Protected Areas within Sierra Madre include the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, Penablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape, Tumauini Watershed Natural Park, Quirino Protected Landscape, Casecnan Protected Landscape, Amro River Protected Landscape, Dinadiawan River Protected Landscape, Simbahan Talagas Protected Landscape, Talaytay Protected Landscape, and Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape.
Palawan is an archipelago that stretches from Mindoro to Borneo, and is also known as the Philippines’ “last ecological frontier” due to its high levels of biodiversity, an abundance of natural resources, and vast expanses of mangroves. Because of this, it is distinctly governed through the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) for Palawan Act (RA 7611) to ensure the protection and conservation of its natural resources, while it undertakes activities that drive economic progress.
- Total land area: 1.49 million hectares with 1,768 islands
- Forest land: 689,161 hectares
- Equivalent to a tenth of the Philippines’ entire forest cover.
- Home to more than 1/3 of terrestrial and marine vertebrate wildlife in the Philippines.
- Has nine protected areas, including the El Nido Managed Resource Protected Area, Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape, and Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Park.
Samar and Leyte
Low, rugged hills and alluvial plains and valleys characterize the provinces of Samar and Leyte. The two provinces are part of the Eastern Visayas region, and are the 3rd and 8th largest Islands in the Philippines, respectively. The two provinces rest beside each other, but are divided by the San Juanico Strait, with only the Philippines’ longest bridge connecting the two. These strategic land and water features have led both provinces to grow a booming agricultural economy.
- Total land area: 2,156,285 hectares
- Samar Island is the biggest island in the region (1,355,935 hectares or around 63% of the region’s total land area)
- Leyte is the second biggest island in the region (744,760 hectares or 35% of the region’s total land area)
- Forest area: 609,325 hectares (about 28% of the total land area)
- One of the two major peatland areas in the country is in Leyte: Leyte Sab-a Peatland Forest.
- Has a thriving biodiversity, which includes over 1,000 plant species and over 300 animal species.
- Has 10 protected areas, including the Samar Island Natural Park (the largest terrestrial protected area in the Philippines).
Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental
The provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental lie in Northern Mindanao, an administrative region with at least 60% of its total land area classified as forest lands. Both provinces are mountainous and have expansive plateaus, with an average elevation of 3,000 feet. The Cagayan de Oro River Basin, one of the major river basins in the country, is located in the landscape. Most of its headwaters come from Bukidnon and flow towards Cagayan de Oro before discharging into the Macajalar Bay..
- Combined Total Land Area: 1,404,311 hectares
- Bukidnon is ranked 9th among Philippine provinces with highest forest cover.
- Has five protected areas, including the Mt. Kitanglad Natural Park and Mt. Kalatungan Range Natural Park.
Forest Foundation recognizes the need to provide support in other areas outside of the focal landscapes identified above. These areas include:
- Small Islands
- This refers to islands with a total land area of less than 2,000 square kilometers and a total population of more than 200,000, and with natural forest cover of at least 30% of the total land area.
- From 2017 to present, two small islands are currently being supported by the Foundation: Batanes and Dinagat Islands.
- This refers to projects focused on upscaling mangrove conservation initiatives, which may include the maintenance of or increase in mangrove forest area, support for livelihood opportunities that are consistent with mangrove conservation, and expansion and strengthening of forest management bodies.
- Critical Habitats
- This refers to projects contributing to the assessment, protection, and eventual declaration of critical habitats.
- Three projects are currently being supported, all for the conservation of known Philippine eagle habitats: Calanasan in Apayao, Maitum in Sarangani, and Manay and Tarragona in Davao Oriental.
- Urban Forests
- The Foundation, in partnership with DENR BMB, Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners and Philippine Association of Landscape Architects, is implementing an Urban Forest Bathing Partnership Project as part of the BMB Urban Biodiversity Program.
Special Program: Dr. Perry S. Ong Fellowship Program
In 2021, Forest Foundation recognized individuals who promote, advance, and enhance the protection and conservation of Philippine forests and forest biodiversity through research, community work, advocacy, arts, and teaching under the Dr. Perry S. Ong Fellowship Program.
It recognizes and honors the life work of the late conservationist Doc Perry, who passed away on March 2, 2019. He served as one of the founding Trustees of the Foundation, and played key roles in shaping the Foundation’s commitment to protect and conserve the country’s most critical forests.
More information on the program can be found here.