PH068
Central Cebu (including Tabunan)


Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
This IBA is within Central Cebu National Park (CCNP), which was established under Proclamation No. 202 on 15 September 1937 (originally 15,393.58 ha), amended by Proclamation No. 835-A on 27 March 1971 (to 11,894 ha). The CCNP also lies adjacent to the older Sudlon National Park (SNP) in Cebu City, which was established on 11 April 1936 with Proclamation No. 56 (696 ha). Both parks overlap with the Kotkot and Lusaran River Watershed Forest Reserve (14,534 ha) that was established through Proclamation No. 932 on 29 June 1992.

Key biodiversity
Tabunan is of critical importance for the conservation of the birds and other biodiversity characteristic of the Cebu Endemic Bird Area. Cebu Flowerpecker, considered extinct since 1906, was rediscovered there in 1992, and it is currently known to survive only in this IBA and at Nug-as and Mt Lantoy (PH071). This is also one of the few IBAs selected for the Black Shama (which survives in a considerable number of localities on Cebu but in small numbers at most of them), and Tabunan almost certainly supports one of the largest remaining populations of this species. Two other threatened species which were thought to be extinct on Cebu were rediscovered at Tabunan during recent fieldwork, Streak breasted Bulbul (represented on Cebu by an endemic subspecies) and Philippine Leafbird. There were also possible sightings of the Cebu endemic subspecies of the restricted-range Blackish Cuckoo-shrike. Twelve subspecies of bird are endemic to Cebu, of which at least five have recently been recorded at Tabunan, Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala cebuensis, Streak breasted Bulbul (see above), Elegant Tit Parus elegans visayanus, White-vented Whistler Pachycephala homeyeri major and Everett’s White-eye Zosterops everetti everetti. There have also been possible sightings there of the Cebu subspecies of White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis cebuensis and Blackish Cuckoo-shrike (see above). Recent records of Colasisi Loriculus philippensis at Tabunan may refer to the Cebu endemic L. p. chrysonotus or to escaped birds brought to Cebu from other islands.

Non-bird biodiversity: The critically endangered Philippine Tube-nosed Fruit Bat Nyctimene rabori occurs at Tabunan. The forest patches in this IBA support a wide variety of trees and other plants, including the last known stands of Caningag or Cebu cinnamon tree Cinnamonum cebuensis, and at least 200 other native and endemic plant species, many of them threatened. Among the most important of these native plants are the leguminous vines called “Sampinit” which produces greenish-white flowers that are frequently visited by nectar-feeding birds such as sunbirds, white-eyes, bulbuls, starlings and flowerpeckers, notably the Cebu Flowerpecker.



Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The forest block at Tabunan is under great pressure. The area is so small that the removal of just a few of the larger trees could have serious consequences for the endemic biodiversity. If the current trends continue, it is feared that the forest could disappear within five years. The most important threats are clearance to provide timber and firewood for local consumption, and encroachment into the forests for kaingin and permanent agriculture. The status of Central Cebu National Park affords little if any protection and may actually allow unregulated use of the area by outsiders, including residential development to meet the high demand for housing from incoming settlers.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The Philippines Wetland and Wildlife Conservation Foundation (PWCF) has facilitated the establishment of a local task force (the Tabunan Tanod or forest guards) to conduct regular patrols of the areas, and this scheme is currently being extended to include the creation of two other tanod patrols in Kantipla and Tagba-o. It has initiated a project for the protection and management of Tabunan, and signs have been placed around the boundary of the forest to increase public awareness. In recognition of the critical importance of the Tabunan area for biodiversity conservation, and its extreme fragility, and especially because it is one of the last remnants of Cebu’s natural heritage, Flora and Fauna International (FFI) (which has long been involved in supporting local initiatives in the area) entered into collaboration with local government authorities and other key stakeholders and interest groups to develop a management plan for the enhanced future protection of the area. They aim to establish nature reserves to protect these resources, and to initiate a habitat reclamation project designed to increase the size of area by connecting the remaining forest patches. A new Foundation, the Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (CBCF), was established in mid-1998 to assist in this endeavour, with funds raised locally and internationally. Other important aspects of the programme include the conduct of faunal and floral surveys, public education and awareness campaigns, local livelihood incentives and other community assistance schemes, and promotion of controlled ecotourism. The Cebu cinnamon tree is one of ten indigenous tree species currently being raised at a nursery near Tabunan (from seedlings taken from the forest) as part of a community-based forestry program. This project is managed in collaboration with the DENR, a local NGO and a farmer’s co-operative, which intends to distribute these native trees to farmers for reforestation, together with some fruit trees for agroforestry. Another reforestation project at Tabunan is the large-scale planting of rattan seedlings within the forest strip, for future sustainable use. A training workshop was recently conducted for the Tanods through the collaboration of CBCF, FFI (Flora and Fauna International, supported by the Darwin Initiative of the U.K. Government), and the University of the Philippines-Los Baños. The training provided the Tanods with the tools and skills required for conservation education and basic survey techniques to assess and monitor the biodiversity of the forests. Regular monitoring by the local forest guards will provide the baseline data needed to formulate future community-based conservation management plans.

Protected areas
This IBA is within Central Cebu National Park (CCNP), which was established under Proclamation No. 202 on 15 September 1937 (originally 15,393.58 ha), amended by Proclamation No. 835-A on 27 March 1971 (to 11,894 ha). The CCNP also lies adjacent to the older Sudlon National Park (SNP) in Cebu City, which was established on 11 April 1936 with Proclamation No. 56 (696 ha). Both parks overlap with the Kotkot and Lusaran River Watershed Forest Reserve (14,534 ha) that was established through Proclamation No. 932 on 29 June 1992.

Habitat and land use
This IBA is within Central Cebu National Park (CCNP), which was established under Proclamation No. 202 on 15 September 1937 (originally 15,393.58 ha), amended by Proclamation No. 835-A on 27 March 1971 (to 11,894 ha). The CCNP also lies adjacent to the older Sudlon National Park (SNP) in Cebu City, which was established on 11 April 1936 with Proclamation No. 56 (696 ha). Both parks overlap with the Kotkot and Lusaran River Watershed Forest Reserve (14,534 ha) that was established through Proclamation No. 932 on 29 June 1992.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Central Cebu (including Tabunan). Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/08/2022.