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Environmental Management


National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS)

Republic Act (RA) No. 7586, issued in June 1992, addressed the problems of environmental degradation and advocated for biological diversity conservation, protected area management and sustainable development. Under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), protected areas were classified into eight categories,  namely: (1) Strict Nature Reserve, (2) Natural Park, (3) Natural Monument, (4) Wildlife Sanctuary, (5) Protected Landscape and Seascape, (6) Resource Reserve; (7) Natural Biotic Area; and (8) other categories as established by law, conventions or international agreements.

As of CY 2003, the DENR has proclaimed seventeen (17) protected areas in Bicol covering some 60,485.62 hectares.  Fourteen (14) of such areas have organized their Protected Area Management Boards (PAMBs) to ensure the effective implementation of their Protected Area Plans.

Of Bicol’s 17 Protected Areas, four  (4) were proclaimed as Natural Parks while two (2) others were proposed as Natural Monuments and Protected Landscapes and seascapes, as follows:

  • Bicol Natural Park, under Proclamation No. 431 dated December 29, 2000, within the municipalities of Lupi and Sipocot, in Camarines Sur as well as of Basud and San Lorenzo Ruiz in Camarines Norte, covering an area of 5,201 hectares;
  • Mt. Isarog Natural Park, under Proclamation No. 214 issued on June 20, 2002, covering the municipalities of Pili, Ocampo, Tigaon, Goa, Calabanga, Tinambac in the province of Camarines Sur and Naga City, with a total area of 10,112.35 hectares;
  • Mayon Volcano Natural Park, under Proclamation No. 413 issued on Nov. 21, 2000, covering the municipalities of Bacacay, Malilipot Sto. Domingo, Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, and the cities of Tabaco, Legazpi and Ligao, with a total area of 5,458.55 hectares;
  • Bulusan Volcano Natural Park, under Proclamation No. 421 issued on November 27, 2000, covering the municipalities of Bulusan, Irosin, Juban, Barcelona, and Casiguran, with a total area of 3,673.29 hectares;
  • Libmanan Caves National Park located in Libmanan, Camarines Sur, covering an area of 19.40 hectares, whose proposed Proclamation was submitted to the DENR Central Office;
  • Caramoan National Park in Caramoan, Camarines Sur, covering an area of 347 hectares, whose proposed proclamation was also submitted to the DENR Central Office.

Biodiversity Conservation Priority areas were identified in the Bicol region under the Philippine Conservation Priorities shown below.

Conservation Priority Areas Priority Level Estimated Area Location Region Within Biodiversity Corridors
Ragay Gulf Very High 19,492.04 Cam. Sur & Quezon V
Mt. Labo Very High 74,637.39 Cam. Sur, Cam. Norte & Quezon V & IV Bicol Corridor
Caramoan Peninsula Extremely High Critical 28,896.06 Camarines Sur V Bicol Corridor
Catanduanes Island Very High 63,607.37 Catanduanes V
Mt. Isarog National Park Extremely High Urgent 20,882.42 Camarines Sur V Bicol Corridor
Lake Nabua Very High 7,414.69 Camarines Sur V
Lake Buhi, Lake Manapao / Lake Katugday Extremely High Critical 29,076 Albay & Cam. Sur V Bicol Corridor
Lake Bato Extremely High Urgent 10,500.90 Albay & Cam. Sur V
Bacon–Manito Insufficient Data 20,794.85 Sorsogon & Albay V
Mt. Bulusan National Park Very High 19,053.15 Sorsogon V


Ticao- San Bernardino Strait- Lagonoy Gulf Extremely High 325,362.38
Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate & Northern Samar VIII & V
Mt. Villion-Mapili Very High 18,009.75 Masbate V
Mobo-Uson Very High 9,164.63 Masbate V
Daraga-Placer-Malatugon Very High 8,103.94 Masbate V

The Bicol region has 11 Proclaimed Watershed Forest Reserve (WFR) areas shown below.

Name of Watershed Total Area Covered Proc. Date. Proc. No.
Bicol Region 37,734
Mt. Masaraga Watershed Forest   Reserve 810 10/27/92 84
Capalonga Watershed Forest Reserve 762 11/25/66 128
Dahican Watershed Forest Reserve 43 06/23/33 43
Abasig-Matogdon Forest Reserve 5,545 11/18/91 837
Jose Panganiban Watershed Forest Reserve 1,160 01/09/98 1151
Lagonoy Watershed Forest Reserve 470 09/26/32 500
Catanduanes Watershed Forest Reserve 26,010 06/23/87 123
Matang-Tubig Watershed Forest Reserve 1,305 05/02/94 368
Tugbo Waterhed Forest Reserve 247 05/02/94 369
Diwata Watershed Forest Reserve 350 05/02/94 370
Magallanes & Juban Watershed Forest  Reserve 1,032 11/23/92 108

Some NIPAS component areas overlapped with the conservation priority areas as identified under  the Philippine Conservation Priority areas  e.g.; Caramoan National Park, Lagonoy Biotic area, Abasig-Matogdon, Mananap Natural Biotic Area, Catanduanes Watershed  Forest Reserves, Mt. Isarog Natural Park, Tiwi National Park, and Bulusan Volcano National Park. There is a need to assess the NIPAS and redefine boundaries to ensure that protected areas contain the appropriate biological important areas.

Non-NIPAS Areas

Non-NIPAS areas are those that have outstanding physical and aesthetic features, anthropological significance and biological diversity but have not been included in the NIPAS and need to be protected for the same reasons of NIPAS areas.

These include the following:

  • Wetlands (coastal & freshwater), which are in the form of lakes, swamps, marshes and river systems and which were created by tectonic, geologic and hydrological processes. They may or may not contain water permanently.
  • Lakes, which are temporary features on the earth’s surface. Shallow lakes are likely to degenerate and disappear rapidly due to pollution and siltation.

There are three (3) lakes in the Bicol Region: Bato, Baao-Bula and Buhi, all in the province of Camarines Sur, with a combined surface area of 6,000 hectares. These lakes are home to 10 identified freshwater fish species that include the endangered tabios or sinarapan (acclaimed as the smallest fish in the world), freshwater prawn and freshwater clam. Lake Buhi, formed due to large volume of debris avalanche or mega landslides, has shallow depths and very irregular outline. About 5,800 fishermen are currently dependent on the Basin’s lake system for livelihood.

Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur is considered as a wetland critical to Biodiversity. It has the following resident species: Resident Bird: Common Bittem, Wandering Whistling duck, White-collared Kingfisher; and Endemic Birds: Philippine Mallard, Stay Breasted Rail (Tikling), White-eared Brown Fruit Dove, Van Hasselts Sunbird, Banded Rail. Fish species found in the Lake include Sinarapan, Tilapia, Carpa, Perch, and Mirapina.

Rivers offer a very wide range of resources both at the national and community levels. They serve as the main conducts of the fish movement to and from coastal areas. The migratory fish are the most resources of inland waters in rivers and lakes. Rivers also serve as sources of hydroelectric power, water, waterway transportation and as venues for recreational and cultural events such as the fluvial parades and water sport activities.

The Bicol River, located in the mainland Bicol, straddles across three (3) provinces from the northern tip of Mt. Labo, Basud Camarines Norte to Camarines Sur (which accounts for three-fourth of the Basin) and to Albay (at the southern part, which approximately accounts for nearly a third of the Basin).

The Bicol River commences at the outlet of Lake Bato and follows a meandering course to the sea at San Miguel Bay. The three (3) main tributaries of the Quinale river; Nasisi, Cabilogan and Ogsong River carry most of the sediments from Mt. Mayon. Some 1,000,000 metric tons of materials are deposited in the lake annually and become a threat to the fishing industry and inhabitants around the lake. Downstream of Lake Bato, the Bicol river flows in a confined but meandering channel past Sto. Domingo and opens up some four (4) kms. downstream into the lake Baao area. During wet season, these areas expand into a shallow lake which fluctuates in size according to rainfall conditions. The inundation is amplified by the contracting of the valley downstream where the Pawili River runs together with the Bicol River. The Pawili River brings down large volumes of suspended materials during floods that cause the riverbed to aggravate downstream. The downstream left bank has an extensive flood plain between Baliwag Nuevo and the Libmanan River flows which is subject to deep inundation, particularly when the floods coincide with high tide or typhoons cause tidal surges in San Miguel Bay. This event causes deep flooding in Naga City and other towns and habitation in the floodplain area. The last 60 kilometers of the Bicol River are characterized by increasingly large river meanders as the river approach the tidal estuary. However, the three (3) short cut channels between the meanders built in 1988 had considerably shortened the river reach to the sea.

  • Important Bird areas. Diamante, Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon was identified as important bird areas with the following species: White-collared Kingfisher, Philippine Mallard, Swifter, Sunbird.  Similarly, Balumbon island, Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon was also identified, with the following species: White-Collared Kingfisher, Waders, Egret, Sunbird, Swallow, Sandpiper, Rails, Tems Whimbel/Sand snipes.
  • Second growth forests (>50% slopes and >1000m elevation). Based on  LANDSAT survey, the Bicol region has a total of 530,301 forestland with  Camarines Sur having the biggest forestland of 164,203 hectares followed by Masbate with 144,743 hectares. The smallest forestland (31,116 hectares) is in the province of Sorsogon. Of the total forestland, 33.6 percent are within the protection forests with 100,424 hectares forest cover consisting of 48,298 has. closed canopy,  54,710 has. open canopy, 6,698 has. Mangrove, and 718 hectares forest plantations.
  • Mangroves are defined in PD 705 as a type of forest occurring in tidal flats   along the seacoast extending along the streams where the water is brackish. As of 1999, the Bicol region had a total of 6,698 hectares of mangrove forest. Mangroves serve as nursery and feeding areas that support coastal fisheries and as a buffer for coastal settlements that minimizes damages in times of typhoons and strong waves.

Environmentally Critical Areas (ECAs)

Environmentally Critical Areas are areas prone to natural hazards (weather, hydrologic, and geologic).

Bicol’s environmentally-critical areas include areas that are subject to seismic hazards, prolonged flooding, tsunamis, volcanic eruption fallouts, and severe erosion.


The area mostly flooded is the Bicol River Basin in the provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur.  It has a drainage area of about 3,156 square kilometers, of which some 2,000 sq. km. are agricultural, and the rest are forests, wetlands, rivers and lakes.

The Quinale riverbed of the River Basin area ebbs and flows with the material erupted from the Mt. Mayon that flood events had washed into the river system. Sand quarrying, a common practice along the river, probably ameliorates the situation with some 100,000 sq. m. of sand taken annually. The increasing backwater effect of the lake during floods also causes the upstream bed level to rise. Settlements, as well as livelihood, are threatened by extensive flooding and inundation.

The low lying areas in the Bicol River Basin are generally associated with deep and prolonged flooding, which destroys rice and other crops. Recent urbanization and other human activities have accelerated flooding and caused permanent loss of prime agricultural lands. The pattern of land use conversion for housing and other urban uses fragments irrigated ricelands and causes more areas to become more prone to flooding. Sedimentation and soil erosion likewise aggravate flooding in the entire basin areas including the rapid changes in the brackish water and morphology of the estuaries and riparian landscapes of the Bicol River.

Volcanic Hazards

The Bicol region has two active volcanoes: Mt. Mayon and Mt. Bulusan. Two other volcanoes in the region are inactive, namely, Mt. Isarog and Mt. Iriga.

Materials ejected during eruptions pose danger to people, infrastructures, farmlands, properties at the base and midslope of the volcano. The most common hazards are lava flows and base surges. Other dangers are earthquake, tsunamis and seiche and edifice failure.

Because of its height, steep slopes and very deep gullies, Mayon volcano is potentially susceptible to creating an avalanche. It could be triggered by earthquakes, eruptions, intense rainfall and magma intrusion.  A famous avalanche occurred in 1868 when Mt. Iriga erupted.  It covered about 70 sq. km. (reaching 11 km. from the old summit), dammed the Barit River, and created Lake Buhi.


Erosion is a destructive geologic process that wears down land masses and ultimately lowers their surfaces as close as possible to base level – the extension of sea level inland. With time, mountain ranges are destined to become hilly lands and then as rolling plains through river erosion. Rivers erode by down cutting streambeds, scouring banks, transporting detached soil, mineral and rock fragments and depositing these detached fragments on floodplains, lakebeds and seabeds. Ultimately, everything washes down into the sea.

The Bicol region has a total of 664,776 hectares affected by erosion, of which 511,197 were classified as moderate erosion and 153,579 hectares were severe erosion.


Geothermal  Reservations

The Bicol Region has three (3) Geothermal Reservation areas:  (1) Tiwi Geothermal Reservation in Albay–Proclamation No. 739 dated February 1982; (2)  Bacon-Manito Geothermal Reservation in Albay– Proclamation No. 2036 – A  dated November 11, 1980; and  (3) Barit River-Lake Buhi Forest Reservation in Camarines Sur– Proclamation No. 573 dated June 26, 1969.

Proclamation No. 2036 prohibited all logging activities within the reservation area and all permits and revoked all previously issued licenses for logging operations in the area. Further, Proclamation No. 573 declared that the improvement and development of pertinent portions of the watershed shall be undertaken as specific or cooperative projects by the Bureau of Forestry, with the cooperation of the Reforestation Administration, National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority, National Irrigation Administration, Bureau of Public Works, National Power Corporation and Bureau of Soils.


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