New Species of Frogs Discovered in the Philippine Forest of Southern Leyte - A Critical Biodiversity Area

frog1frog2Two new species of frogs belonging to the genus Platymantis were discovered specifically inhabiting the montane and mossy forests of the Nacolod Mountain Range in Southern Leyte.  Both species differ markedly from other known species of Philippine Platymantis frogs by their body size, coloration patterns, and advertisement calls. The two species are allied to two different species groups, the Platymantisguentheri Group and Platymantishazelae Group. This is the first time that a Platymantis species belonging to the hazelae group has been discovered in Mindanao faunal region, of which the island of Leyte belongs to.

The discovery of the two new frog species was a result of the biodiversity resource assessment conducted in Southern Leyte by the Fauna and Flora International in November 2011.  The month-long ground surveys in Southern Leyte Province (covering the municipalities of Silago, Hinunangan, Sogod, Maasin, Tomas Oppus and Malitbog) recorded a total of 229 floral species (31 of which are unique to the Philippines) and 212 terrestrial vertebrates species, comprising 112 species of birds (41 species are unique to Philippines; 11 of which are threatened to extinction), 36 species of mammals (17 species are unique to the Philippines) and 64 species of amphibians and reptiles (more than half of whichare found only in the Philippines).

Herpetologists from the Philippines and the United States are now working on the formal taxonomic description of the species.

While the highlight of the assessment is the discovery of the new frog species, it also generated a detailed documentation of new and important information on the ecology and natural history of many species of vertebrates that are endemic to Leyte.

The biodiversity assessments were conducted by Fauna and FIora International, the National Museum of the Philippines on behalf of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through its projects, namely the Climate Relevant Modernization of Forest Policy and Piloting of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in the Philippines Project being implemented by the German International  Cooperation (GIZ);  the New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project (NewCAPP),   the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The study was aimed at generating species inventories and practical information on key species-habitat associations as sound bases for forest and biodiversity management planning.

The assessment indicated the general preference of Southern Leyte’s fauna to forest and riverine environments. The information generated, serves as a baseline that can be used to predict impacts of habitat change on species and to design measures to protect forest biodiversity. For local government units in Southern Leyte, the findings provide the scientific basis in designing appropriate management systems and monitoring protocols useful in protecting forest ecosystems, establishing local forest and biodiversity areas as well as to steer the rehabilitation of forests towards an efficient and more ecologically sound path. For the national Government it will spur forest protection and rehabilitation efforts under the Philippine National REDD-Plus Strategy as part of the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAPP), and the National Greening Program.

Despite its infamous reputation of having highly fragmented and degraded forests, this impressive list of fauna and flora demonstrates the underappreciated biodiversity of the Philippines. (with reports from NewCAPP).

News

DENR Celebrates Ocean Month in May

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 8 joins in the country’s annual celebration of May as Ocean Month. This annual celebration is by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 57 signed in 1999 to highlight the conservation, protection and sustainable management of the country’s coastal resources.

On its 15th year, the annual celebration focuses on the mangrove ecosystem, anchored on the theme “Mangroves Protect. Protect Mangroves.” (Bakawan ay Sanggalan, Sanggalan ang Bakawan). DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said this year’s theme is extremely timely and significant in light of the magnitude of the destruction wrought by Yolanda, which is said to be the strongest tropical typhoon ever recorded.

“Unfortunate the disaster may have been, Yolanda undoubtedly was an instant education for Filipino people on what storm surges are, and was a rude awakening of sort on the state of our coastal communities and their lack of protection from these natural events,” Paje pointed out.

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Photo Releases

Calbiga Mayor Melchor Nacario (2nd from R) hands a token of appreciation to DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Demetrio Ignacio (3rd from R) for gracing the building’s blessing. Also in photo are DENR Regional Director Leonardo Sibbaluca (rightmost), Calbiga SB Member (in stripe top), and SINP Protected Area Superintendent Angelito Villanueva (left most). 

 DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Demetrio Ignacio (4th from R) spearheaded the ceremonial distribution of the relief goods from Asean-Republic of Korea Forest Cooperation (AFoCo) DENR’s AFoCo Focal Person Orlando Panganiban (1st from R), AFoCo representative Nely Butic (2nd from R), DENR 8 Administrative Division Chief Esther Coral (3rd from R), and DENR 8 Regional Director Leonardo Sibbaluca (left most) assisted the distribution of the goods.

Gracing the turn-over ceremony of 150 chairs to Eugenio S. Daza Pilot Elementary School (ESDPES) are DENR USec for Field Operations Demetrio Ignacio (2nd from R), RED Leonardo Sibbaluca, (4th from R), PENRO Eastern Samar Arturo Salazar (8th from R), and CENRO Borongan Moises dela Cruz (1st from R).

(R)DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Demetrio Ignacio  (2nd from L) inspects the 12-hectare pilot site for the Leyte Gulf Mangrove and Beach Forest Rehabilitation Project in Brgy. Anibong, Tacloban City. 

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