A 20-HECTARE area within Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak, will be designated as a wildlife rescue and conservation center following an agreement among local governments, national agencies, and private organizations.
“The project seeks to bolster and promote conservation efforts and assuage the dwindling number of endemic wildlife through the collaboration and mutual support of all stakeholders,” the Sta. Cruz municipal tourism office said in a statement.
Sta. Cruz, a town in Davao del Sur, is one of the jump-off points for Mt. Apo treks.
The Sta. Cruz local government was among the signatories of the Manifesto of Support for the project initiated by the Mindanao Development Authority.
The manifesto, finalized last week following a two-day roundtable discussion, was also signed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Davao Region office, other local governments within the regions of Davao and Soccsksargen covered by Mt. Apo, private firms, and the Philippine Eagle Foundation.
DENR-Davao, in a separate statement, said the planned conservation center is in line with the continued programs of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) for Mt. Apo Natural Park.
“The past years, the PAMB chaired by the DENR’s Regional Executive director had brought changes to the policies and regulations in the country’s highest peak,” it said.
“This includes regular conduct of camp, trail and biodiversity assessment and monitoring.”
The PAMB also adopted in 2021 a three-month annual closure of Mt. Apo, every August to October, to give the protected area “a period to rest and recover from camping activities and for wildlife species have their undisturbed space and time.”
The proposed location for the rescue center is in Digos City, Davao del Sur.
Meanwhile, DENR-Davao has also recently signed an agreement with Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) and Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. for the establishment of monitoring stations along Mt. Apo trails in Sta. Cruz and Digos City.
The stations are intended to enhance law enforcement, biodiversity monitoring, and ecotourism development, the Sta. Cruz tourism office said. — MSJ