Samar Island is the third largest island in the Philippine archipelago. It contains some of the Philippines’ largest unfragmented tracts of lowland rainforest. It is home to 50 Philippine endemic bird species and 18 Philippine endemic mammals, many of which are endangered.
To protect this valuable resource, the Philippine government, along with the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Development Program, has launched the Samar Island Biodiversity Project. In 1996, a presidential proclamation created the Samar Island Forest Reserve with minimal protection. The goal of the biodiversity program is to establish the Samar Island Natural Park, an 857,000-acre protected area.
Many residents of Samar are too poor to afford basic surgical procedures. To thank the islanders for setting aside such a large protected area, Seacology underwrote an all-volunteer surgical mission to Samar by the Society of Philippine Surgeons in America.