A bill that seeks to establish Kaliwa River Forest and Wildlife Sanctuary as a legislated protected area (PA) under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (Nipas) Act has gained the support of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
House Bill (HB) 5055, filed by Rizal Province 2nd District Rep. Emigdio “Dino” P. Tanjuatco III pushes the protection of the forest reserve and wildlife sanctuary.
Legislated PAs are assured of stronger protection measures and a more rigid management regime. They also enjoy regular appropriation for protection and conservation-related activities.
The DENR Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), and the local government of Rizal province said they support all efforts to further protect and preserve the forest reserve and wildlife sanctuary against various threats, along with the rest of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.
Republic Act (RA) 7586 or the NIPAS Act, as amended by RA 11038 or the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018, mandates the DENR to implement measures and programs to protect, maintain, and sustain the perpetual existence of all native plants, animals, and natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
The Kaliwa River Forest Reserve (KRFS) is named after its geographic location on the left side of watersheds situated in Luzon’s northeastern seaboard and part of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.
A recent suitability assessment revealed the KRFS is under the jurisdiction of the municipalities of Tanay, Rizal, and General Nakar, Quezon. It has a total area of 31,883 hectares.
It is known to be the home of various endangered wildlife species such as the Northern Philippine Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus philippensis), Philippine Brown Deer (Rusa marianna), Philippine Warty Pig (Sus philippensis), Northern Rufous Hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax) and others. It is also considered to be the home of the Critically Endangered Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), a species endemic to the Philippines.
The proposed Kaliwa River Forest and Wildlife Sanctuary (KRFWS) has 12,147 hectares of remaining forest with approximately 172 types of plant species, 39 of which are endemic and 17 are classified as threatened. Some species that can be found in the area are Rafflesia (R. Philippinensis and R. Lagascae), and Tayabak or Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys).
A recent study on Pungapong (Amorphophallus sp.) led the way to the discovery of a new species of Pungapong (Amorphophallus funtarumii), which was first found in a portion of the proposed Kaliwa River Forest and Wildlife Sanctuary. This new species has been classified as highly endangered due to the present threats of forest degradation and destruction.
“All those species are endemic, meaning, they can only be found in the Philippines. Those are considered keystone species, with crucial roles in defining an entire ecosystem,” said DENR Calabarzon Regional Director Nilo B. Tamoria. “Once legislated, fund support for the management of the KRFWS is assured and stringent regulations will be implemented,” he added.
Apart from its rich biodiversity, Kaliwa River Forest Reserve is also home to the Indigenous Peoples of the Dumagat-Remontado of the Sierra Madre who play an important role in the conservation and protection of the environment and natural resources within the area.