SUMMARY

- A three-dimensional participatory map showing land-use throughout the Polillo Islands was developed and is displayed permanently in Polillo Town. Data was transferred to GIS format to enable future analysis and to monitor habitat changes.

- Posters and educational materials stressing the unique character of Polillos' forests, their global importance for conservation and local importance to island residents were distributed throughout the Polillo Islands.

- Plans for a teacher-training workshop on Polillo were developed (scheduled for September 2002) and educational materials provided.

- A multimedia species guide to the Wildlife of the Polillo Islands including photographs, sound recordings (where relevant) and background information on many taxa (birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals) was developed to be distributed to municipal offices in the Polillos and educational establishments throughout the Greater Luzon Region.

- Surveys of forest patches throughout the islands were conducted revealing that Polillo's remnant forest still harbours globally important wildlife communities:

  • Several localities support the critically endangered endemic Polillo forest frog, Platymantis polillensis, previously thought extinct until rediscovered in 1999. The islands diverse amphibian fauna comprises at least 19 species, including three currently undescribed.
  • Remnant populations of the endangered Philippine cockatoo Cacatua haematuropygia, Polillo Blue-naped parrots, Tanygnathus lucionensis hybridus and Polillo Azure-backed parrots Tanygnathus sumatranus freeri that are under serious threat from hunting. Other species targeted by hunters include the Luzon bleeding heart, the green-winged emerald dove and the Colasissi (Philippine Hanging-Parrot).
  • Many globally threatened species such as the Philippine Forest Kingfisher Ceyx melanurus, and island endemics including the Green narrow-disked gecko Pseudogekko smaragdinus, and Polillo Calotes Calotes marmoratus sanchezi.
  • An unprecedented diversity of bats; Phillip Alviola's research from 1999 documented 11 new island records increasing the islands bat species richness by an incredible 48%, further research in 2001 added another 3 species including the horseshoe bat Hipposideros coronatus, (No published records are available for this species since it was first described by Peters in 1871).
  • Polillos' forests are at least as speciose as those of mainland Luzon, supporting many endemics, 22 species of dipterocarps, including the 'lost' species of Apitong, Dipterocarpus orbicularis (collected only twice before, its taxonomic position is unknown because no fertile material has ever been collected (P. S. Ashton, pers. comm; Ashton, 1982)).
  • An important population of the country's largest frugivore, Grays monitor lizard, Varanus olivaceus, depends on the remaining forest fragments. Nondestructive and noninvasive methodologies have been developed for surveying and investigating the baseline ecology of this poorly known lizard.
  • The forests provide many essential services for local communities including potable water, protection from flash floods and erosion, mangrove protection, timber and other forest products.

The results are remarkable considering the tiny size of the remaining forest fragments on Polillo, and reiterate the importance of lowland forest in the Philippines, now reduced to a critical level. The precarious condition of the island's forests means well-informed conservation strategies are essential.

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