Palawan Biosphere Reserve
Palawan Biosphere Reserve is an island slash of mountain and tropical rain forest filled with rare and interesting birds and four-footed wildlife, bordered by white sand beaches, ringed by coral reefs some 120 miles (190 km) west of the main Philippines group between the Sulu and China Seas. Isolation has helped maintain its largely pristine state, though with discovery of valuable woods and mineral deposits of chrome, copper, manganese, nickel, as well as oil and gas, it is uncertain how long this will last.
This 5,400-square-mile (14,000 km2) island U.N. Biosphere Reserve, one of the world’s largest, is divided into several parts, including two national parks of world renown—ST. PAUL SUBTERRANEAN RIVER NATIONAL PARK and TUBBATAHA REEFS—plus Palawan WildlifeSanctuary; a Buffer Zone; Core Zone Area; Ursula Island Bird Sanctuary; and BabumbayanExperimental Forest.
In the island’s forests are rare foot-high (30-cm) Calamian Palawan mouse deer, scaly anteaters, Palawan porcupines, badgers, binturong, and tarsiers. Birds include Palawan peacock-pheasants and close to water, purple herons and threatened Philippine sea eagles. Swallow-like swifts build edible nests on cliffs.