Last week, Robert Skorkowsky, Chugach National Forest district ranger, and Ed Biery, GIS and vegetation inventory specialist on the Pike/San Isabel National Forest and Cimarron/Comanche National Grasslands, joined International Programs office staff and chief emeritus Dale Bosworth in the Philippines. The team worked with local government partners and local nongovernmental organization the Philippine Eagle Foundation in the northern Philippine province of Apayao, an area known for its primary forest and nesting populations of the critically endangered Philippine eagle.
The International Programs office is supporting PEF and local governments in Apayao in their habitat conservation efforts, specifically through forest guard trainings and community education campaigns. In addition, Skorkowsky and Biery are providing technical assistance in the planning and inventorying of a communal forest. The communal forest will be used by the community to meet its forest resource needs via sustainable management for timber and non-timber resources, and will take pressure off the surrounding forest where eagles are nesting.
The Philippine eagle is endemic to the Philippines and there are only around 400 pairs remaining in the wild. Deforestation has been one of the primary drivers of population decline. Apayao province contains some of the largest remaining tracts of old growth tropical forest in the Philippines, the ideal habitat for the eagles. Recognizing the significance of their natural resources, provincial leaders plan to work toward designating national and international protected areas in critical habitat areas.