Batanes Islands

Country/territory: Philippines

IBA criteria met: A1, A2 (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 20,323 ha

Haribon Foundation

Site description (baseline)
The Batanes and Babuyan Island groups are at the northern tip of the Philippines, between Luzon and Taiwan, and extend for more than 200 km from north to south. The two island groups are included in a single IBA, but only the Batanes Islands are a WB-GEF funded CPPAP site. The main islands in the Batanes group are Itbayat (9,000 ha), Batan (7,000 ha) and Sabtang (1,600 ha). The main islands in the Babuyan group are Calayan (7,800 ha), Camiguin Norte (16,800 ha), Fuga (7,000 ha), Babuyan (9,800 ha) and Dalupiri (5,200 ha). The islands are the home of the Ivatan tribal people. They have attractive coastal scenery and are a popular destination for tourists, hikers and bikers. Broad U-shaped valleys are a feature of the eastern side of Batan and Itbayat, and wave-cut cliffs, sea caves and secluded white sandy beaches are found throughout the islands. Batanes is also famous for its distinctive culture and architecture.

Key biodiversity
The Batanes and Babuyan Islands are Secondary Areas, supporting three restricted-range species, all of which have subspecies which are endemic to these islands. They have all been reported to be common or uncommon on one or more of the islands in the past, but there is little recent information on their status. Knowledge of their distribution within the islands is also probably incomplete, and there is a need for more survey work. A total of 21 subspecies (including the three given above) are endemic to this IBA, several of which are known from just one or two of the islands. The Batanes and Babuyan Islands are an important flyway for migratory birds, mainly moving between Japan and Taiwan and the Philippine Archipelago.

Non-bird biodiversity: The newly described species of lizards, Jareck’s flying lizard Draco jackeri, Batan smooth-scaled gecko Lepidodactylus balioburius and Batan narrow-disked gecko Gekko porosus, and an undescribed species of snake, Lycodon sp., are found on Batan Island. Sixteen species of vascular plants are endemic to the Batanes Islands, and at least 47 species are endemic to the Batanes and Babuyan Islands. Threatened species include Lilium philippinensis, Podocarpus costalis, and P. polystchyus, which are being depleted as a result of the export trade. The mammals of Batanes Islands are poorly known. The largest population of the Ryukyu Flying Fox Pteropus dasymallu is reported to occur in Batan Island and Dalupiri and Fuga Islands of the Babuyan region. This bat is listed as globally Endangered by the IUCN and is in Appendix II of CITES. The only known Philippine distribution of the Indochinese shrew Crocidura attenuata is in this IBA. The waters off this IBA also support threatened marine species, including the green turtle Chelonia mydas, hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata, and the olive ridley turtle Lepidochelys olivacea.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Batanes Islands. Downloaded from on 08/06/2023.