The Biodiversity, Coastal, Wetlands and Ecotourism Research Center (BCWERC), Region 6, tasked with the implementation of “Biodiversity Profiling and Carrying Capacity Determination of Priority Ecotourism Areas” project, conducted a vegetation and faunal survey in Gigantes Island, Carles Iloilo. The survey aims to identify vulnerable and threatened species/resources in the area.

Dr. Alicia L. Lustica, BCWERC Center Head/Project Leader requested the BCWERC Region 7 Biodiversity Profiling and CarCap Team, headed by Chona M. Tura and the project staff For. Ancelmo Aurestila, For. Bernardo Redoblado, and Ms. Hanna Lou Castillo to lead and supervise the said activity. The team conducted the survey which focused on mangroves, timberland, birds and bats together with the assistance of the BCWERC R6 staff, Ms. Lovejoy Tejido and Ms. Jenny Lacorte, support of CENRO Normandy K. Lebelo of Sara, Iloilo and Barangay Captains of Gigantes Island. Transect and quadrat methods were utilized to quantify the relative abundance of mangroves and timberland in the area. For the identification of bird and bat species, mist nets were established near their habitats.

In Gigantes Norte, nine (9) mangrove and mangrove associate species, thirteen (13) beach forest species, and nine (9) upland tree species were identified. Bakauan (bangkau Rhizophora stylosa), buta-buta (Excoecaria agallocha), pagatpat (Sonneratia alba), talisai (Terminalia catappa), kalumpang (Sterculia fotida), yemane (Gmelina arboria), and binayuyo (Antidesma ghaesembella) were some of the identified flora in the area. In Gigantes Sur particularly in Brgy. Gabi which has the largest mangrove area of about 82 hectares and mangrove stand of more or less 48 hectares, sixteen (16) mangrove and mangrove associate species, fifteen (15) beach forest species, and nineteen (19) upland tree species were identified. Bakauan bangkau (Rhizophora stylosa) dungon (late Heritiera littoralis), gapas-gapas (Thespesia populnea), mangkas (Pouteria ovate), nino (Morinda bracteata), duhat (Syzygium cuminii) and yemane (Gmelina arboria) were some of the identified flora.

For the faunal survey, 38 species of birds and 8 species of bats were identified. Spotted dove (Spilopelia chinensis), collared kingfisher (Todiramphus iscularis), striated heron (Butorides striata), glossy swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta), dagger-toothed fruitbat (Macroglossus minimus), lesser dawn bat (Eunycteris spelea), and dogface fruitbat (Cynopterus brachyotis) were some of the identified fauna. All specimens were released after identification. Gigantes Island is currently gaining popularity with its flourishing tourism industry. The need to protect, develop and sustain its ecological condition while at the same time ensuring the satisfaction of its visitors has never been more profound. Determining the carrying capacity which is the ability of an area to satisfactorily accommodate an activity without damage to the environment of Gigantes Island will aid the Local Government Units and other stakeholders in regulating the influx of visitors in particular and policy-making in general. Jenny B. Lacorte, BCWERC