Peñablanca PPLS
a pair of the Philippine-endemic Rufous hornbill, spotted in the Sierra Madre mountains
photo credit: Mila Salibad

Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape (PPLS) is a key biodiversity area with ecologically and economically important biological resources. It provides habitats to a unique assemblage of flora and fauna, including the critically endangered Philippine Eagle. The protected area’s main river system, Pinacanauan River, is a major tributary of the Philippine’s longest river, the Cagayan River, that supplies the primary irrigation for the municipality’s agricultural lands. It serves as part of the water public transport system, fishing grounds and venue for water recreation. It provides clean water not only to the municipality but also to the adjacent city of Tuguegarao. 

The intricate cave systems of PPLS are home to various species of plants and animals. Archeological studies discovered evidences of early humans living among the caves in the park, making it one of the important archeological sites in the country.

A 2003 presidential proclamation expanded the coverage of the PPLS from 4,136 hectares to 118,108 hectares. This expansion created two adjacent protected areas – PPLS and Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park – that comprise the country’s largest block of forest under conservation management.


Extreme poverty, rapidly increasing population and lack of awareness or understanding of the importance of ecosystem services are the major threats affecting the terrestrial and marine resources of the protected area. Poverty has compelled the local people to cut trees for firewood, charcoal-making and timber.
Others open up slash-and-burn (kaingin) areas to plant cash crops.

These activities lead to the degradation of the forest ecosystem, reducing the capacity of the watershed to retain and contain water and contributing to the lowering of the aquifers. This situation also exacerbates soil erosion that affect the productivity of farmlands, cause siltation of the rivers and further affect the mangroves, and smother corals. However, if properly conserved and managed, the rich resources of the PPLS will continue to provide fresh water, irrigation, tourism income and rich fishing grounds to the people of Cagayan Valley