‘Kaliwa Dam will destroy Sierra Madre biodiversity’
(The Philippine Star) - November 29, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The construction of the multibillion-peso Kaliwa Dam Project will not only have devastating effects on people’s lives, it will also ravage the homes of thousands of threatened wildlife species in the Sierra Madre mountain forests including the Philippine Eagle, environmental group Haribon Foundation said. 

Sierra Madre is considered one of the most biodiverse areas and the largest remaining tract of rainforest in the country. 

According to the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool curated by BirdLife International, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the forests and coastline of Presidential Proclamation No. 1636 (series of 1977) is a key habitat to 15 species of amphibians, 334 bird species, 1,476 fish species, 963 invertebrate species, 81 mammal species, 50 plant and 60 reptile species. 

A significant number of species in PP 1636 are considered as globally threatened by IUCN, despite their habitat’s protected status. The protected area is home to the critically endangered Philippine Eagle in its forested mountains and the Hawksbill Turtle on its coastlines, among other threatened species.

The Kaliwa Watershed Forest Reserve, where the dam would be constructed, was declared a forest reserve through Proclamation No. 573 on June 22, 1968. Under Proclamation 1636 issued on April 18, 1977, a portion of the watershed was declared a National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. The Kaliwa Dam project is one of the flagship infrastructure projects identified by the government that will be financed by China through a bilateral loan agreement.

Haribon believes that the survival of the vast variety of wildlife found in this area depends on the extensive Sierra Madre forests. 

The Kaliwa watershed is home to various threatened wildlife such as the Northern Philippine Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus philippensis), Philippine Brown Deer (Rusa marianna), Philippine Warty Pig (Sus philippensis), Vulnerable Northern Rufous Hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax), Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), and restricted-range birds of the Luzon endemic bird area, which are found nowhere else on the planet. 

Haribon also stressed that the dam construction will endanger various plant life found in the Sierra Madre mountain range. The biggest portion of the Kaliwa watershed vegetation has approximately 12,147 hectares of residual forests, with around 172 plant or flora species recorded: 39 of which are endemic or found only in the country, and 17 threatened or vulnerable to endangerment or extinction in the near future.

KALIWA DAM PROJECT
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