New Species of Frogs Discovered in the Philippine Forest of Southern Leyte - A Critical Biodiversity Area
Two 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).
Forest Land Use Planning, Necessary in Managing the Forests in Region 8
“One government strategy seen to save our people from the ill effects of climate change and help in food sufficiency, is planning for the sustainable use of our forests and its resources. Our forests should be protected, developed and secured not only for the present but also for the future generations. So, the local government units (LGUs) must have their Forest Land Use Plans (FLUPs) for incorporation in their Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs)”, says Regional Executive Director Manolito D. Ragub of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Region 8.
In order for the government to realize its goals, the DENR through its Forest Land Use Team headed by Forester Allen Cebuano, assists all LGUs in Region 8 on the preparation of the latter’s Forest Land Use Plans (FLUPs) which are to be incorporated in the LGUs Comprehensive Land Use Plans.
In a report of Regional Technical Director Marciano T. Talavera of the DENR’s Forest Management Service, the FLUP Team closely works with the technical working groups of the LGUs for the drafting of the FLUPs. The draft FLUPs are presented to the Sannguniang Bayan of every municipality for adoption and ultimately incorporation in the town’s CLUPs.
During the process, the DENR assists the LGUs in generating thematic maps and watershed delineation using the Geographical Information System (GIS).
FLUP serves as guide in managing the forest resources and the watersheds of every municipality. This ensures biodiversity conservation, food and livelihood security and climate change mitigation. This is also consistent with the DENR’s ridge to reef management approach wherein protection, conservation and development programs from the uplands to the lowlands or from the mountains to the seas are harmonized considering the interrelationships and interdependence of all the ecosystems in the environment. State of the uplands will certainly affect the state of the lowland areas.
“Through the FLUPs that the municipalities are preparing, the town folks see the forest for the trees. They learn to appreciate the full impact of their rehabilitation activities. They envision to have lush greeneries, abundant supply of water and forest goods that could sustain the needs of their communities”, observed Forester Allen Cebuano as they conduct discussions and consultations with the communities.Read more...
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