PH113
Basilan Natural Biotic Area


Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
Basilan Island lies c.20 km south of the tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula of south-western Mindanao. It is a hilly island, with several peaks that ascend to almost 1,000 m, including Mt Kebang (Twin Peak) and Mt Mohadji. This IBA includes the forests that remain in the hilly central part of the island, which are recommended by the DENR-9 for protection under the NIPAS as the Basilan Natural Biotic Area. An area of 234 ha of primary forest is reported to remain on Mt Mohadji, which also has patches of secondary forest which cover a total area of 2,500 ha. These areas were logged more than 20 years ago, but have now regenerated. Most of this is lowland forest, with limited areas of mossy forest around the highest peaks.

Key biodiversity
Many of the threatened and restricted-range species of the Mindanao and Eastern Visayas Endemic Bird Area have been recorded on Basilan, but there is little recent information on their status there. Several of these birds were found to be relatively abundant there in the past, notably the threatened Mindanao Bleeding-heart and Celestial Monarch. It is possible that the remaining forests on the island could prove to be very important for the conservation of some of these birds. The Zamboanga Bulbul is known only from Basilan and the western half of Mindanao, a distribution that it shares with several subspecies of birds. A total of 12 subspecies are endemic to Basilan alone, the four listed above in the table plus Colasisi Loriculus philippensis dohertyi, Philippine Fairy-bluebird Irena cyanogaster melanochlamys, Streaked Ground-babbler Ptilocichla mindanensis basilanica, Brown tit-babbler Macronous striaticeps striaticeps, Philippine Tailorbird Orthotomus castaneiceps mearnsi, Rufous-tailed Jungle-flycatcher Rhinomyias ruficauda ruficauda, Yellow-bellied Whistler Pachycephala philippensis basilanica and Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra randi.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Basilan had extensive forest cover until the 1960s, when the American Logging Company (ARCO) and three other logging companies starting logging operations. This led to an influx of settlers, who continue to put pressure on the remaining forests through encroachment for agriculture, kaingin and resource gathering (e.g. rattan). Small-scale timber extraction and wildlife hunting are also widespread, and there is a mini-sawmill within the forest zone. Boundary delineation has not been undertaken in Basilan National Park, and settlers have moved into the park. In February 1976, the Department of Agrarian Reform, through Proclamation No 1531, declared the southern border of the national park as a resettlement site, intended for rebel returnees. The Yakan tribe occupies 121 ha of the protected area, which they have cleared and planted with coconut and coffee. In addition, 20% of the area has been awarded to occupants under a certificate of stewardship contract (CSC).

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
There are two contract reforestation projects inside Basilan National Park, covering 100 ha at Rancho Piit, Bohe Yakan, Lamitan and 40 ha at Libertad, Lumuton, Lamitan. Unfortunately, exotic tree species (mahogany Swietenia macrophylla and gmelina Gmelina arborea) have been planted at both sites, which are likely to be of limited value to the native wildlife. Proper survey and documentation of the national park’s wildlife resources has not been undertaken, and development and maintenance activities are low due to limited funds and support. The park is manned by two personnel, a Senior Conservation Officer and a Supervising Parks and Game Warden. The best quality forests that remain in the central part of Basilan are recommended for protection under the NIPAS as the Basilan Natural Biotic Area (the boundaries of which are currently used to define this IBA). To the west of this site is a forest reserve (proclaimed on 11 May 1940). Surveys of the current status of the threatened and restricted-range birds and other biodiversity are required, which would help to determine whether it is appropriate to extend the IBA boundaries to include the forest reserve.

Protected areas
This IBA includes part of Basilan National Park, which was declared by Proclamation No. 457 on 25 September 1939 and amended by Proclamation No. 1531 on 2 February 1976. Basilan Natural Biotic Area is recommended for protection by the DENR-9 under the NIPAS.

Habitat and land use
Basilan Island lies c.20 km south of the tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula of south-western Mindanao. It is a hilly island, with several peaks that ascend to almost 1,000 m, including Mt Kebang (Twin Peak) and Mt Mohadji. This IBA includes the forests that remain in the hilly central part of the island, which are recommended by the DENR-9 for protection under the NIPAS as the Basilan Natural Biotic Area. An area of 234 ha of primary forest is reported to remain on Mt Mohadji, which also has patches of secondary forest which cover a total area of 2,500 ha. These areas were logged more than 20 years ago, but have now regenerated. Most of this is lowland forest, with limited areas of mossy forest around the highest peaks. In February 1976, the Department of Agrarian Reform, through Proclamation No 1531, declared the southern border of the national park as a resettlement site, intended for rebel returnees. The Yakan tribe occupies 121 ha of the protected area, which they have cleared and planted with coconut and coffee. In addition, 20% of the area has been awarded to occupants under a certificate of stewardship contract (CSC).


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Basilan Natural Biotic Area. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/08/2022.