Apayao is now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and it’s a huge win for conservation and the majestic Philippine eagle!

Apayao’s vast forests have been officially declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, making it a critical hub for sustainable development and learning.

Finally, the province of Apayao has been inscribed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, making it the fourth in the Philippines.

This new status, known officially as the Biosphere Reserve for the yApayaos, covers nearly 400,000 hectares of stunning forest landscapes–home to the Isnag people, 10 other ethnolinguistic groups, and the critically endangered Philippine eagle.

The announcement was made at the 36th session of the International Coordinating Council of the Man and Biosphere Programme in Agadir, Morocco on July 5.

Being named a biosphere reserve means that Apayao’s forests are now recognized as critical hubs for sustainable development and learning.

In his acceptance speech, Apayao Governor Elias Bulut said it was an honor for the province to be finally recognized as one of the world’s prime examples of sustainable development and biodiversity.

“We hope to inspire other potential learning spaces for conservation and sustainable development in the Philippines and around the world,” said Elias in a report by the Philippine News Agency.

He added, “Together, we strive for our shared mission and responsibility to save and nurture what is left of our natural resources, thereby saving globally endangered species like the majestic Philippine eagle from extinction and protecting our planet from the brink of distinction.”

According to the Philippine Eagle Foundation on its website, the dream to get this global acclaim began in 2015 when the first active nest of the critically endangered Philippine eagle was discovered in Apayao. Further biodiversity expeditions revealed more eagle pairs, it said.

“[This asserted] the fact that Apayao’s ancient forests are a stronghold for this rare and majestic national bird of ours,” the PEF added.

This designation places Apayao among the 11 newest UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in the world, and is the fourth in the Philippines, joining the ranks of Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro (1977), Palawan (1990), and Albay (2016).