Northern Sierra Madre National Park

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The Northern Sierra Madre National Park is the most extensive area of preserved rainforest in the Philippines at 359,486 hectares. It is the larger of 2 remaining areas of intact primeval forest in Luzon, the other being a much smaller wooded area in the Cordilleras. The Northern Sierra Madre National Park was designated a protected area on March 10, 1997 under Presidential Proclamation No. 978, to protect it from the logging industry. Combined by presidential decree with the bordering Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape in November 2003, it covers a protected natural landscape larger than Switzerland. It is also known as the Palanan Complex or Palanan Wilderness Area after one of its highest peaks, Mt. Palanan.



Consisting of forests in the northern half of the 1.7-million-hectare Sierra Madre mountain range, the park lies in the east of the province of Isabela. To its north is the Diktayan River while Disabunga River forms its southern border. To the west is the Cagayan Valley. In the east, it reaches the coast of the Philippine Sea.


The park consists of 287,861 hectares of land and 71,625 hectares of marine areas. Its landscape is hilly to mountainous, with the Sierra Madre Mountain Range running through it. While many parts of the forest cover of the Northern Sierra Madre Mountains have been heavily logged in the past, the interior still consists of lush virgin forest. There are several peaks in the north to south mountain range area rising higher than 1,000 meters (2,743.2 feet). These include Mt. Divilican (1,311 m or 3596.34 feet), Mt. Cresta (1,672 m or 4586.63 feet), and Mt. Palanan (1,184 m or 3,247.95 feet).

The park is home to a large number of endangered and protected animal and plant species which are indigenous to the Philippines. As much as 45 % of all plant species native to the Philippines and more than 50 % of threatened local wildlife may be found in these forests. The lowland areas are covered by lush undisturbed dipterocarp rainforest while higher altitude areas are covered by montane forest. Along its coastline are estuaries, mangrove and beach forests, beds of sea-grass, and coral reefs which serve as important ecosystems.


The park is home to rare bird species, including most of the 6 species of eagles found in the Philippines such as the endangered Philippine eagle and the Rufous-bellied eagle. Rare species of reptiles found in the park include the Philippine sail-fin water lizard, the estuarine crocodile, and Gray’s monitor lizard. At least 12 new species of reptiles and 15 new species of amphibians that are unique to the Philippines have been discovered in the park.


  • Friends of Peoples Close to Nature Intercultural. “Philippines Primary Forest Drastically Reduced.” In Forest Protection Portal, May 5, 2000.] (Accessed March 11, 2009).
  • “Northern Sierra Madre National Park / Palanan Complex Northern Luzon.” In Lakbay Gubat. [1] (Accessed March 11, 2009).

Philippines: Park Expansion Creates Nation's Largest Contiguous Protected Area.” In Conservation .org, November 18, 2003 [2] (Accessed March 11, 2009).



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