Country/Territory Philippines
Area 14,000 km2
Altitude 0 - 2000m
Priority critical
Habitat loss moderate
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

This EBA includes the Philippine island of Palawan, the Calamian group in the north, Balabac in the south, and various other smaller offshore islands. These islands constitute the easternmost extension of the Asian continental (Sunda) shelf, and thus some of their more widespread fauna and flora are shared with the island of Borneo to which they were once connected. Because this EBA forms a link between Mindoro (EBA 150) and Borneo, it is an important route for avian migration.

The vegetation on Palawan is one of the most diverse of any island within the Philippines and includes tropical lowland evergreen rain forest, lowland semi-deciduous (seasonal/monsoon) forest, montane forest at 800-1,500 m, and forests over limestone in the south (WWF/IUCN 1994-1995).

Restricted-range species

All the restricted-range species occur in forest, mostly in the lowlands. All species occur on Palawan and four are confined to this island alone. Stachyris hypogrammica has a very limited distribution, only being recorded from the Mantalingajan range above 1,000 m (Dickinson et al. 1991).

Species IUCN Category
Palawan Peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron napoleonis) VU
Grey Imperial-pigeon (Ducula pickeringii) VU
(Collocalia palawanensis) NR
Palawan Scops-owl (Otus fuliginosus) NT
Mantanani Scops-owl (Otus mantananensis) NT
Palawan Hornbill (Anthracoceros marchei) VU
Blue-headed Racquet-tail (Prioniturus platenae) VU
Blue Paradise-flycatcher (Terpsiphone cyanescens) LC
Palawan Tit (Pardaliparus amabilis) NT
Grey-backed Tailorbird (Orthotomus derbianus) LC
Sulphur-bellied Bulbul (Iole palawanensis) LC
Palawan Striped Babbler (Zosterornis hypogrammicus) LC
Melodious Babbler (Malacopteron palawanense) NT
Ashy-headed Babbler (Pellorneum cinereiceps) LC
Falcated Wren-babbler (Ptilocichla falcata) VU
White-vented Shama (Copsychus niger) LC
Palawan Blue-flycatcher (Cyornis lemprieri) NT
Palawan Flycatcher (Ficedula platenae) VU
Yellow-throated Leafbird (Chloropsis palawanensis) LC
Palawan Flowerpecker (Prionochilus plateni) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
PH047 Calauit Island Philippines
PH048 Busuanga Island Philippines
PH049 Culion Island Philippines
PH050 El Nido Philippines
PH051 San Vicente - Taytay - Roxas forests Philippines
PH052 Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Natural Park / Cleopatra's Needle Philippines
PH053 Victoria and Anepahan Ranges Philippines
PH054 Mount Mantalingahan Philippines
PH055 Ursula Island Philippines
PH056 Balabac Island Philippines

Threat and conservation

Palawan is the most forested island in the Philippines with satellite data from 1988 showing 54% of land forested (Dickinson et al. 1991). However, forest is steadily giving way to logging, mining and agriculture owing to immigration of people from other more crowded parts of the country (Quinnell and Balmford 1988, Collins et al. 1991). Consequently some of the restricted-range species, mostly lowland birds which do not appear to tolerate degraded forest or secondary habitats, are classified as threatened. Three widespread threatened birds-Philippine Hawk-eagle Spizaetus philippensis (Vulnerable), Philippine Cockatoo Cacatua haematuropygia (Critical) and Blue-naped Parrot Tanygnathus lucionensis (Endangered)-also occur on Palawan, which is a stronghold for these species.

The entire province of Palawan has been declared a Fauna and Flora Watershed Reserve, and, within this, there are other kinds of protected areas including the St Paul Subterranean National Park (which is important for threatened species including Polyplectron emphanum) and the El Nido area (which has been proposed for protection under the Integrated Protected Areas System). Ursula Island (17 ha), 20 km south-east of the southern tip of Palawan is an important roosting and nesting site for pigeons including Ducula pickeringii and the widespread Nicobar Pigeon Caloenas nicobarica (Near Threatened). It was established as a bird sanctuary in 1960, but there has been a significant decline in the numbers of roosting pigeons, from an estimated 150,000 to a few thousand birds over the last 60 years, perhaps owing to the effects of introduced species and human disturbance (Gonzalez 1996).

A survey of Palawan concluded that a network of protected areas would not be sufficient to prevent environmental deterioration, mainly because it would not receive the support of the local communities. Instead, in 1990 a network of Environmentally Critical Areas was established over the whole island; this is a graded system of protected management, varying from strict control in certain areas to buffer areas where regulated use is allowed (Castañeda 1993).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Palawan. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/01/2023.