Mt Makiling is an isolated peak to the south of Laguna de Bay in southern Laguna Province, about 50 km south of Metro Manila. Although it only rises to just over 1,000 m and is located in a densely-populated part of Luzon, it still retains extensive forest cover. The forest is mainly lowland in type, with some montane forest around the peak above 900 m. The forest on most of the lower slopes has been cleared or degraded, but an area of good quality lowland forest remains around the botanic garden and the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). There are several types of agriculture on the slopes of Mt Makiling, including coconut plantations intercropped with coffees, bananas, and other commercial fruit trees; citrus orchards; and fruit plantations mixed with aroids, pineapples, and vegetables. The cultivation of these crops is encouraged by the proximity of the mountain to markets and its accessibility to wholesale buyers. The forests on Mt Makiling collectively perform various important ecological functions, including the prevention of soil erosion and acting as a sanctuary for wildlife. Mt Makiling is an important watershed, including as a source of the natural springs that are a major tourist attraction at Los Baños. A trail goes up the mountain from the UPLB campus, and the mountain is popular with tourists and birdwatchers.
Many of the restricted-range birds of the Luzon Endemic Bird Area have been recorded on Mt Makiling, and a few threatened species, including Philippine Eagle-owl. This relatively accessible site is popular with bird-watchers, and has been well studied by biologists from the nearby University of the Philippines Los Baños, and many of these species are known to occur in good numbers there.
Non-bird biodiversity: Threatened and poorly-known endemic threatened mammals recorded in the area include Luzon Broad-toothed Rat Abditomys latidens, Lowland Striped Shrew-rat Chrotomys mindorensis, Northern Luzon Giant Cloud Rat Phloeomys pallidus and Luzon Short-nosed Rat Tryphomys adustus. Large flying foxes Pteropus and Acerodon spp. have been observed flying over the forest canopy. The endemic Luzon Pygmy Fruit Bat Otopteropus cartilagonodus may be present at higher elevations on Mt Makiling. Amphibians recorded in the area now totals 26, out of which 14 are endemic to the Philippines. These endemics include the recently described Luzon Forest Frog Platymantis luzonensis and Diminutive Forest Frog Platymantis mimulus, and the poorly-known ranid, Limnonectes macrocephalus. Reptiles recorded in this IBA include endemic and rare species, such as the White-Spotted Anglehead Gonyocephalus semperi, Jagor’s Sphenomorphus Sphenomorphus jagori, Black-sided Sphenomorphus Sphenomorphus decipiens and Steere’s Sphenomorphus Sphenomorphus steerei. A total of 2,038 species of flowering plants has been recorded on Mt Makiling.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mount Makiling Forest Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/01/2020.