Photo from PCCP

Conservationists have expressed concern over the forest damage caused by Typhoon Odette in the town of Dumaran, noting the widespread destruction of the habitat of critical species in the town, a priority site for the katala or the red-vented cockatoo.

The Katala Foundation and the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Program (PCCP) noted that Dumaran suffered severe deforestation because of the typhoon.

“The canopy of this protected area was completely opened up by Odette,” Michael Plazos, field officer of Dumaran PCCP project site, told Palawan News.

Photo from PCCP

The group is currently conducting an assessment of the damage caused by Odette in the area, including other katala conservation sites in forests of Montible within the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm.

“I had tears in my eyes when I saw the devastation in the forest”, Plazos said.

Plazo said the destruction of the trees affected the food chain of wildlife in Odette-affected municipalities.

He reported that they recently found a dead Palawan hornbill (Anthracoceros marchei) with clear signs of starvation during one of their patrols in Dumaran.

The most important trees, especially for larger birds, like cockatoos and hornbills are also those which are so tall that they emerge above the forest canopy. They were particularly exposed to the gale-force winds, with the result that at least one-third of them were uprooted.

Indira Widmann, Katala Foundation executive director, called for restoration interventions of damaged forests in northern Palawan.

“We need to increase our presence in the forest through patrols and other monitoring efforts,” she said.

She also encouraged the communities to continue to be partners of their agency in the protection of the Katala, including communities in the town of Narra where Rasa Island, which is home to Katala, is located.