Biosphere reserves are areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. The biosphere reserve title is handed over by UNESCO. Each reserve promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. Biosphere reserves are 'Science for Sustainability support sites' – special places for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located. Their status is internationally recognized.[1]


The Philippines currently has three UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. The first Biosphere of the country was designated in 1977.

The Palawan Biosphere Reserve is the only biosphere reserve in the country that contains a Ramsar Wetland Site (Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park) and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Tubbataha Reefs National Park and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park)

The Philippines became a committee member of the Man and Biosphere Programme of UNESCO in 2016 and shall retain the position until 2019.

Biosphere Reserve Year Designated Periodic Review Description Image References
Albay Biosphere Reserve 2016 The Albay Biosphere Reserve is located at the southern end of the Luzon Island of the Philippines, and covers some 250,000 hectares. The terrestrial elevation of the site culminates at 2,462 metres, while its marine part reaches a depth of 223 below sea level. The site's high conservation value is constituted, notably, by 182 terrestrial plant species, 46 of which are endemic. Its marine and coastal ecosystems comprise 12 species of mangrove, 40 species of seaweed or macro-algae, and 10 species of sea grass. Five of the world's seven species of marine turtles are also found in Albay. Agriculture is the main source of income in the area. The biosphere reserve is home to Mayon Volcano, which is listed in the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Mt.Mayon tam3rd.jpg
Palawan Biosphere Reserve 1990 2012 The Palawan Biosphere Reserve is a cluster of islands composed of one long main island and smaller groups of islands around it. The 1,150,800 hectares of the biosphere reserve include the entire Province of Palawan Island, which is the westernmost province of the Philippines. The biosphere reserve is home to the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park and the Tubattaha Reefs Natural Park, both are declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The reserve is also home to the El Nido-Taytay Managed Reserve, Mount Mantalangajan National Park, Coron Natural Biotic Area, and the Palawan Petrographs, all of which are in the Tentative List for UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
View on the half way to Kayangan Lake - panoramio.jpg
Puerto Galera Biosphere Reserve 1977 2014 Puerto Galera Biosphere Reserve is situated on Mindoro Island, about 120 km south of Manila. Its 23,200 hectares make up the northern tip of Mindoro Island and are bounded to the north by the Verde Island Passage, to the west by the Camarong River and to the east by the municipality of San Teodoro.
Sabang Bay.jpg

Ecological frontiers like Eastern Mindanao, Eastern Visayas, Sibuyan island, Western Panay, the Sierra Madre, Southern Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, and the Cordilleras are theoretically capable of standing as UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in the future, along with specific Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) designated by Haribon Foundation and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In comparison to the 3 biosphere reserve of the Philippines, Indonesia has 11 biosphere reserves, China has 33, India has 10, Iran has 11, Japan has 9, Kazakhstan has 8, South Korea has 5, Sri Lanka has 4, and Vietnam has 9. The Philippines is one of the 18 ecological hotpot countries of the world, containing more than 228 Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs).[1]

Albay is the latest to be added to UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2016. The government plans to nominate reserves in the Philippines annually once its committee membership ends.[2]

Reserves by Philippine regions

Exclusive UNESCO Biosphere reserved refer to reserved locating in a single community/region. Shared reserves refer to reserved with entries in multiple communities/regions.

Community Exclusive reserves Shared reserves
Cagayan Valley
Central Luzon
Mimaropa 2
Bicolandia 1
Western Visayas
Central Visayas
Eastern Visayas
Northern Mindanao

Proposed Reserves

On July 27, 2018, the provincial government of Apayao announced their intent to start the long process to declare the Calanasan rainforests as a protected area and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve or World Heritage Site. The site is the stronghold of Philippine eagles in Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines. The province also noted that they have sent four of their personnel to train in the United States under the US Foreign Service to hasten the declaration of the site.[5]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Biosphere Reserves | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization".
  2. ^ a b UNESCO Press (March 19, 2016). "20 sites added to UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves". United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
  3. ^ "Palawan | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization".
  4. ^ "Puerto Galera | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization".
  5. ^ "Gov Bulut wants Calanasan Philippine Eagle sanctuary declared as protected area". July 27, 2018.