Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL) is a mountain range covering 120,457 hectares in Southern Palawan, Philippines. Mt. Mantalingahan is home to indigenous Palaw’ans and is the highest peak along the central spine of mountains in southern Palawan.
MMPL was declared a protected area in June 2009 through Presidential Proclamation 1815, and is within the territorial jurisdiction of the municipalities of Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, Quezon, Rizal and Sofronio Espanola. It is currently the largest terrestrial protected area in Palawan.
Mt. Mantalingahan, a key biodiversity area, is one of only ten sites of the Alliance for Zero Extinction in the Philippines and one of the 11 important bird areas in Palawan. Most of the threatened and restricted-range birds of the Palawan Endemic Bird Area occur in the Mantalingahan range and the adjacent lowlands.
This largely forested mountain range is critical for providing various ecosystem services that benefits the local communities with an estimated total economic value of US$5.5 billion. These ecosystems services include water, soil conservation, flood control, carbon sequestration, non-timber forest products and the high potential of waterfalls, caves and other areas for tourism. The thirty-three watersheds within MMPL are extremely valuable to the lowland agricultural economy in the area.
Some of the threats to MMPL’s ecosystem include illegal, uncontrolled and unregulated utilization of forest products (timber, fuelwood and minor forest products); increasing conversion of forestland to agricultural land; tan barking and mangrove conversion; wildlife poaching; in-migration, increase in population; destruction of watershed areas and water reservoirs; and mining claims within and in the periphery of its boundaries.
The watersheds that feed the numerous irrigation schemes in surrounding lowlands have also experienced extensive loss of forest cover and degradation of forest resources. Poor watershed conditions result in disrupted water supply, reduced crop yields, and reduced agricultural value of land.
The extent of mining activities and pending applications for mining activities in many parts of Palawan is overwhelming despite the public’s clamor for a moratorium on mining. As of 2008, there were over a hundred mining applications in southern Palawan, while two controversial mineral production sharing agreements covering MMPL were approved prior to its proclamation as a protected area.