A recent statement by a nonprofit global research organization revealed that the province of Palawan has lost 44.1 kilohectares (kha) of primary forest between 2002 and 2022, based on spatial data and satellite imagery.

According to the Global Forest Watch (GFW) platform of the World Resources Institute (WRI), Palawan lost 20.6 kha of primary forest in 2022 alone. This marks an all-time high since 2002, with the lowest recorded primary forest loss occurring in 2002, at only 291 hectares.

However, GFW clarified that the term “loss” does not necessarily indicate deforestation.

“Loss indicates the removal or mortality of tree cover and can be due to variety of factors, including mechanical harvesting, fire, disease or storm damage,” the forest monitoring platform stated.

In 2010, the platform recorded 1.06 megahectares (mha) of natural forest in the province, covering over 80% of its land area.

“This data set defines primary forests as mature natural humid tropical forest cover that has not been completely cleared and regrown in recent history,” the Global Forest Watch noted.

In terms of tree cover, Palawan lost 202 kha from 2001 to 2022, with 90% of this loss occurring within natural forests.

Of the overall tree cover loss in the province from 2001 to 2022, 52% was recorded in Rizal with 28.3 kha, followed by Puerto Princesa City with 21.1 kha, Roxas with 20.9 kha, Bataraza with 17.2 kha, and Taytay with 17.1 kha.

Meanwhile, Puerto Princesa has the highest tree cover with 198 kha, followed by Taytay with 104 kha, Roxas with 87.1 kha, Rizal with 83.8 kha, and San Vicente with 77.2 kha. These areas collectively represent 54% of Palawan’s tree cover as of 2010.

“Tree cover is defined as all vegetation taller than 5 meters in height as of 2000.Tree cover is the biophysical presence of trees and may take the form of a natural forest or plantations over arrange of canopy densities,” it stressed.

“Tree cover loss is not the same as deforestation. Tree cover loss includes change in both natural and planted forest and does not need to be human caused,” it clarified further.

Global Forest Watch believes that protecting the forest habitats is the key to maintaining biodiversity.

“We are currently facing the sixth great mass extinction of species. Human activity is driving extinction at a rate 1,000 to 10,000 times beyond natural levels,” GFW said.

With better data on where tree cover loss in important biodiversity areas is happening, governments can make informed decisions related to concessions and conservation projects and civil society can call attention to areas at risk,” it added.

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