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Category: Critical Plant Sites
Date Posted: 2005-12-27
Mount Pulog is an extinct volcano in north?eastern Benguet, Luzon. It reaches a height of 2929m, making it the highest mountain in Luzon, and covers an area of 1 15.5 km2. The cone comprises Quaternary volcanics of igneous origin. The rim and upper slopes are very steep, and are thought to have been develop from eruptions during the late Pliocene to early Pleistocene. The lava flows consist of andesite and decite interbedded with pyroclastics. The mountain has fine-loamy to clayey soils which have only a low to moderate fertility.
The mean annual rainfall ranges from 3600 to 4500mm (which is much higher than adjacent areas). Heavy rainfall occurs during June to November, January to April are drier months. Frosts occur on the summit in January.
The area below 1200m is mainly secondary grassland, primarily of Themeda triandra. A few broadleaved shrubs and small trees occur in moist ravines and gullies. Settlements and agricultural lands are extensive in this zone, e.g. around Babadak. The lower fringes of pine forest have also been converted to farmlands for the cultivation of vegetables and cut-flowers. Cattle grazing occurs on less rugged slopes. Lake Babadak is use as a water source for the settlers in this area.
At an altitude of lOOOm, pine forests occur along river banks. An almost pure stand of pines (Pinus insularis) occurs from 1000 to 2000m. In gullies and stream depressions, broad-leaved trees and shrubs are intemixed with the pines. Typical trees and shrubs are Pipturus asper, Melicope luzonensis, Bischofia javanica, Mallohss ricinoides,Acalyphas Iacea,Ficus hauili and Pittosporum pentddrum. Ferns, herbaceous plants, and woody species, such as Saurauta elegans, Vaccinium benguetense, Itea macrophylla and Wendlandiaglabrata,are found in ravines at higher altitudes.
Pine forests and grasslands cover extensive tracts as a result of fire. Pinus insularis occurs as pioneer in drier areas especially on bare soils. Seedlings of other forest species later colonize these areas beneath the cover of pines; however, man-made and natural fires kill many of the flowering plant species, while sparing the adult pine trees. As a result, pines may often occur in pure stands.
The transition zone between the pine and montane forests occurs at about 2000m. Most of the trees in transitional montane forest are irregularly shaped and short, but some reach a height of 15-30m. Above 2600m, summit grassland includes 37 species of grasses, along with a few mosses, scale-mosses and lichens. This type of vegetation covers appmximately 20 km2. Among the grasses found here are Agrostis elmeri, Deschampsia flexuosa, Dfyeuxia stenophylla, and others.
There are an estimated 800 vascular plant species on Mt. Pulog, including many local endemics. Approximately 23% of the total number of genera represented in the flora are endemic to Mount Pulog and its vicinities. Some of these are: Merrilliobryum, Curania, Aniselytron, Mon ostachya, Cleistoloranthus and Loberia.
The flora of Mount Pulog has affinities with those of temperate continental Asia, Australasia and, to some extent, Peninsular Malaysia (although dipterocarps, pandans and palms are notably absent from Mount Pulog).
Social and Environmental Values
Kabayan, which is at the eastern lower part of Mount Pulog, is a popular destination for both local and foreign tourists. The caves are the traditional burial grounds of the native people. Mount Pulog, being the highest peak in Luzon and the second highest mountain in the Philippines, is a favorite destination for mountain trekking.
The montane forests of Pulog protect fragile mountain slopes from erosion. They also protect an important water catchment area for towns in the lowlands. Regeneration of the forest after burning can be hampered by aggressive invading species of grasses which compete with, and prevent, the growth of tree seedlings. As a result, slopes are left vulnerable to erosion.
Expeditions to Mount Pulog have been undertaken since the early 1900s. The earliest expeditions was undertaken by E.B. Copeland and E.D. Merrill in 1905. The first ascent of the mountain itself was by Charles Benson. Later, botanical expeditions were made by H.M. Curran, M.L. Merritt, T.C. Zschokie, E.B.Copeland, E.D.Merrill, and others. In 1968, Menus Jacobs visited the mountain and strong recommendations for conservation were subsequently made by the National Museum of the Philippines.
It was not until 1987 that Mount Pulog was declared a National Park. However, its exact boundaries have not yet been clearly established. Management zones are being proposed. The pine forests, montane forests and summit grasslands are recommended as strict conservation zones.
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