The Cordillera Central is the highest mountain range in the Philippines. The highest mountain in the range, Mount Pulag, is also the highest mountain on the island of Luzon at 2,928 meters (9,606 feet). The Sierra Madre is the longest mountain range in the Philippines. With an area of more than 540 kilometers (340 miles), it extends from the province of Cagayan to the province of Quezon, forming a north-south direction in the eastern part of Luzon, the largest island in the archipelago.
It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Cagayan Valley to the northwest, Central Luzon to the midwest and Calabarzon to the southwest. Some communities east of the mountain range, along the coast, are less developed and are so remote that they can only be accessed by plane or boat. Several different types of forests can be recognized in the Philippines, including the lowland evergreen rainforest, which is rich in dipterocarps; it grows best on good soils and, therefore, prevails (or was) common in well-watered plains and on the lower slopes of hills up to c. 400 m, occasionally higher, giving way to a more open mountain rainforest, dominated by dipterocarps, at an altitude of between 650 and 1000 m.
The mossy forest, where the trees are dwarf, covered with moss and full of ferns, orchids and liverworts, is found in the cloud belt, where there is a lot of constant humidity, usually over 1200 m, but also on the peaks and crests exposed at lower elevations, and up to 700 m in the eastern Sierra Madre, where it is more humid. In the western Central Cordillera and in the Zambales Mountains, between 450 and 2450 m, where it is driest, there are extensive stands of Benguet pine (Pinus kesiya) (Dickinson et al. In some parts of Luzon there are large areas of dense “cogon” type grasslands; these areas are maintained by fire during the dry season and it is believed that all of them replaced the original forests (Dickinson et al. The distribution of most species in this EBA seems to be irregular, but this is largely due to the fragmentation of forests and it is likely that the areas of distribution were once more widespread and contiguous, even in historic times.
In addition, the recorded distributions depend on observer coverage (which is still incomplete), and the current ranges of some species may actually be greater than they currently seem. As it has been difficult to determine which species actually meet the requirements for areas of distribution smaller than 50,000 km2, all species that are endemic to Luzon (except Zosterops meyeni, a generalist of widespread habitats) have been included as areas of restricted distribution, despite the large size of the island. The mossy forests of the highlands, although safer than those in the lowlands, are exposed to threats, especially in the Cordillera Central, where the local population has recently accepted modern technology and grows vegetables from temperate and semi-temperate areas on terraces after the felling of native mountain habitats (Penafiel, 199. Several species of this EBA are hunted for food or for the trade of caged birds), but the main threat to birds inevitably comes from the continuous loss and fragmentation of forests. For example, Oriolus isabellae, which may be close to extinction.
This species was only known in the Bataan Peninsula and the province of Isabela, and one of the last records was recorded at a site in the Sierra Madre in 1961, where there is now practically no forest (Danielsen et al. However, there are many remote mountains, particularly in the provinces of Kalinga and Abra, that could rival those on the list in terms of height. Another reason for the biological importance of this great mountain range is not only its intact forest, but also its megadiversity. Unlike any other mountain in the Philippines, Mount Pulag has a vast, undulating peak covered with rare dwarf grasses and bamboos.
At 500 kilometers in length, this mountain range is the best hope of surviving the numerous natural calamities in the Philippines. However, it is the Cordilleras that are home to the highest mountains on the island, some of which are among the 10 best in the entire country. The largest protected area in the country, the Sierra Madre del Norte Natural Park, is located in the northern part of the mountain range, in the province of Isabela. Sierra Madre is home to the indigenous communities of Dumagat-Remontado, who have ancestral domain claims that cover parts of the mountain range.
In addition, the classification may change because the elevations of some mountains, such as Mount Amuyao, have not yet been finalized. In the north, the mountain range begins in the province of Cagayan and ends in the south in the province of Quezon. The Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, the largest protected area in the Sierra Madre mountain range, is home to endemic dipterocarps of the Hopea and Shorea genera, orchids such as Dendrobium aclinia, the leguminous tree Milletia longipes and a member of the citrus family, Swinglea glutinosa, as well as Cacnea and Trevenant. The Narra, the national tree of the Philippines, the Almaciga and the Kamagong are found in the Sierra Madre mountain range.
This EBA includes the lowlands and mountains of Luzon, with more than 100,000 km2, the largest of the Philippine Islands, and the associated islands of Polillo, Marinduque and Catanduanes. The mountain rainforests of Luzon cover parts of the mountain range above 1000 meters above sea level and are characterized by oak and laurel forests. Popular hikers call Mount Timbak, Mount Tabayoc and Mount Pulag the three mountains, as they sit opposite each other. .