Protecting Davao Oriental's wonder
by Mai Gevera
Davao City (7 February) -- Home to a unique bonsai field, better known as "pygmy forest" is Davao Oriental's Mt. Hamiguitan where 100-year old trees abound.
One would wonder about its 225 hectare mossy-pygmy sanctuary filled with trees having an average height of only 1.4m with a diameter of 8 cm.
Experts claimed that this is a sanctuary of high, varied ecosystem with many endangered, endemic and rare flora and fauna species.
However, this jewel was put under threat when anybody, even those having bad intentions can easily climb and go to the area.
"Before, many climbers went to place, left their trash up there, without seeking any permit from the local government." said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR assistant regional director on Protective Areas/Wildlife Coastal and Zone Management Edmund Isip.
This pushed his office to initiate a delineation project to determine which part should be considered protected. This has also empowered the three local government units namely San Isidro, the City of Mati and Governor Generoso to come up with some local policies to regulate the entry of visitors in the area.
DENR also sought the participation of a mining company BHP Billiton to fast-track the delineation process.
Isip lauded the corporate responsibility shown by the said company as this has also guaranteed the people on how the company respects and values the boundaries set by the government to protect the said site.
Most importantly, the delineation work has also generated more jobs in the three LGUs that hold entry points to Mt. Hamiguitan.
The official said that LGUs have now employed "bantay-gubat" or forest guards to constantly secure the area and monitor the entry and exit of visitors as stipulated in the policy.
Local tour guides have also increased in number as the LGUs are now requiring them to go with tour guides as they trek the protected site.
"The natives learned to protect their area and at the same time add an extra living by serving as forest guards, porters, or tour guides," he said.
To further improve forest management of Mt. Hamiguitan, DENR is currently conducting a management planning for the various zones encompassing the said protected area. (PIA) [top]