The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is one of the most significant protected areas of the Philippines. It is located in the Midwest coast of Palawan, some 76 km northwest of Puerto Princesa City. It was designated as a National Park on March 26, 1971 at 3,901 has by virtue of Proclamation No.835. To ensure long term viability, the Park was expanded to 22,202 has that includes the entire catchment of the Underground River and important forested areas by virtue of Proclamation No. 212 signed on November 16, 1999.
The Site features a spectacular limestone or karst mountain landscape with one of the most impressive cave systems in the world. It contains an 8.2 km long underground river that flows directly to the sea. The lower half of the river is brackish and subject to the oceans tide. A subterranean river flowing directly into the sea and the associated tidal influence makes it the most unique natural phenomenon of its type to exist. The discovery of 11 minerals, scientifically and aesthetically unique speleothems, and a 20 million year old Serenia fossil justifies the declaration of the Puerto Princesa Underground River as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
The Site also contains a full mountain to sea ecosystems and protects forests that are important for biodiversity conservation. It is a representative of Palawan Moist Forests, which are among the most significant in Asia, and is noted for high levels of regional and local endemism. The Site serves as habitat to numerous endangered, rare and endemic wildlife species. In the coastal area, mangroves, sea grass beds and coral reefs are found.
In recognition of its outstanding universal value, it was inscribed to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage List on December 4, 1999. Inscription to this prestigious list confirms the outstanding universal value of the Park and its well-integrated state of conservation.
Thru the efforts of Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn, management of the Park was transferred to the City Government of Puerto Princesa on December 16, 1992. It has the distinction of being the first national park devolved and successfully managed by a local government unit. It is managed by the City thru a multi-sector Protected Area Management Board (PAMB). It is a model for effective protected area management and sustainable tourism in the Philippines.
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a source of pride and a key element in the identity of the people of Puerto Princesa in particular and of the Philippines as a whole. It is a symbol of commitment by the Filipino people in the global efforts to conserve our natural heritage.