This IBA includes Mt Lantoy, c.7 km inland from the town of Argao, and Nug-as forest, c.25 km further south in the hills of southeastern Cebu. Mt Lantoy is naturally bounded by the Argao River. It is part of the Southern Cebu Reforestation Project Area, which also covers some of the adjacent hills and the banks of the river. The upper slopes of Mt Lantoy still have some low secondary forest and dense scrub, typical of dry karst limestone conditions. There are some low old-growth trees remaining around the peak at c.500 m and some tall dipterocarp trees at c.300 m on the slopes above the Argao River. The total forest area there is estimated at c.300 ha. Some fruit trees have also been planted recently as part of a DENR restoration program. Most of the surrounding low-lying areas are covered with farmland, agroforestry, secondary growth and reforested areas, planted with exotic trees such as mahogany, falcata, gmelina and acacia. The Argao River cuts a narrow gorge below Mt Lantoy, and many figs Ficus sp. and some sparse scrub grow precariously on the sheer cliffs c.200 m above the river. There are numerous large limestone caves in the cliffs. Nug-as forest has fewer large trees than the main forest block at Tabunan (PH068), but it is much more extensive at c.582 ha. It has been relatively isolated from habitations and more rarely visited, and therefore under less immediate pressure than Tabunan, but the on-going construction of a road to link Alcoy with Alegria will greatly increase its accessibility. Most of remaining forests at Nug-as are on karst limestone slopes and ridgetops, and in gulleys. There are two main forest types, secondary lowland forest and scrub at 200-500 m., and transitional mid-montane forest above c.500 m. Most of the trees have small stem diameters and grow very close together, but there are a few large trees. There is an abundance of epiphytes and moss on the trees and rocks. Around the forests and scrubland are scattered farms surrounded by agroforests, mostly coconut plantations mixed with fruit trees. Exotic trees planted during the reforestation program are also found on the adjacent slopes and along the road.
Nug-as and Mt Lantoy are critically important for conservation, because there are so few significant areas of forest remaining in the Cebu Endemic Bird Area. The two restricted-range species that are unique to this EBA have recently been recorded at both of these sites, and Nug-as apparently supports the largest surviving population of Black Shama. Apart from Nug-as and Mt Lantoy, Cebu Flowerpecker is only known to survive at Tabunan (PH068). Many of the endemic subspecies of Cebu have been recorded in the IBA, and there are recent records of Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala cebuensis, Elegant Tit Parus elegans visayanus, White-vented Whistler Pachycephala homeyeri major and Everett’s White-eye Zosterops everetti everetti from both Nug-as and Mt Lantoy. Sightings of Orange-bellied Flowerpecker Dicaeum trigonostigma pallidus at Nug-as are apparently the only recent record of this subspecies, and there are also possible records of Amethyst Brown-Dove Phapitreron amethystina frontalis from there. Recent records of Colasisi Loriculus philippensis at both Nug-as and Mt Lantoy may refer to the Cebu endemic L. p. chrysonotus or to escaped birds brought to Cebu from other islands. Other recent interesting bird records include probable sightings of several new species for Cebu in the mid-montane forests at Nug-as, including Mountain Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus trivirgatus, Snowy-browed Flycatcher Ficedula hyperythra and Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias panayensis, some of which may prove to represent new subspecies. Possible records of a species of Bleeding-heart Gallicolumba sp. on Mt Lantoy are particularly intriguing.
Non-bird biodiversity: Both Nug-as and Mt Lantoy support many other interesting animals and plants which require further study. Plants include the rare endemic Kapa-kapa Medenilla sp. and Philippine lady-slipper orchids Paphiopedelium argus in the mid-montane forests at Nug-as. Forest frogs of the genus Platymantis heard in the these mid-montane forest possibly represent a new species for Cebu. The caves on Mt Lantoy shelter a dozen or so species of bats. There is a great diversity of invertebrates at both Nug-as and Mt Lantoy, such as Swallowtail Butterflies Papilio sp. and Birdwings Troides sp. Mid-montane forests have not been well studied on Cebu in the past, and the forests at Nug-as may prove to support many species new to Cebu or even new to science.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Nug-as and Mount Lantoy. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/11/2019.