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Apo Reef is the second largest contiguous coral reef in the world and the largest one in the Philippines. The Apo Reef Natural Park consists of the three islands. Apo Reef is the largest among the three islands. It has a shallow lagoon with a depth of 2 meters to 10 meters surrounded by mangrove forest which serves as source of food, nursery and spawning ground of several coastal and marine species of fauna and sanctuary of birds. Its diverse corals are approximately 34 sq. km. of reef where different species of fish, marine mammals and invertebrates thrive.
Apo Reef, the largest atoll like reef in the Philippines, is a submerged platform that is a submerged of a 34 sqkm sub triangular northern m and southern atoll like reefs separated by a 30-m deep channel that is open to the west The channel runs east to west from 1.8 m to 30 m deep with a fine white sand bottom numerous mounds and patches of branching corals under the deep blue water.
Apo Reef was proclaimed as Protected Area under the category of Natural Park and it Surrounding waters as buffer zone by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 868, dated September 6, 1996. The Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP) and its peripheral Buffer Zone covers an area of 15,792 hectares and 11,677 hectares, respectively, totaling 27,469 hectares in all.
Prior to its declaration as a Protected Area under the category of Natural Park, Apo Reef has been designated as Marine Park through Presidential Proclamation No. 1801 in 1980, authorizing the Philippine Tourism Authority PTA to undertake the development and Management of the area. It was also declared a tourist Zone and Marine Reserve by virtue of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro Sangguaniang Bayan Resolution No. 1108 in 1983. In the quest for a more comprehensive program in protected area management the concept of an Integrated Protected Areas System (IPAS) was developed in 1989 by the Haribon Foundation, a non-governmental organization (NCO), through a grant by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF)-US. By 1990, IPAS Phase I, an 18-month study was undertaken. Its major achievements included the enactment of Republic Act 7586 establishing the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) in 1992 and its implementing rules and regulations, and the tentative listing of IP sites all over the country and the identification of ten (10) priority sites including the IPAS Reef Natural Park.
The second phase of IPAS is generally known as the implementation stage. The Conservation of Priority Protected Areas Project (CPPAP), which is being funded by the Global Environmental Facility (CEF) forms part of this phase. Implementation of this project in a ten 10 - pilot sites identified during IPAS Phase I, is currently being jointly undertaken by the Government of the Philippines (COP), through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources DENR and a consortium of local and national development and environment- oriented NGO's, the NGO's for Integrated Protected Areas (NIPA), Inc.
Apo Reef Natural Park compared to that of Tubbataha National Marine Park has a unique natural phenomena. Apo Reef has a high diversity of corals and has an island covered with terrestrial vegetation. Apo Reef, the largest atoll like reef in the Philippines, is a submerged platform that is a submerged of a 34 sqkm sub triangular northern m and southern atoll like reefs separated by a 30-m deep channel that is open to the west