Bokod pushes Mt. Purgatory as eco destination

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- With an approximate land area of 3,168.210 hectares measured and surveyed by the Protected Areas Management Bureau (PAMB) of the Upper Agno River Basin Resource Reserve (UARBRR) and an intact mossy forest which entices environmentalists to protect its distinct flora and fauna, Mt. Purgatory in Bokod, Benguet seeks to become an alternative mountain trekking trail to avoid overcrowding nearby Mt. Pulag in Kabayan.

Purgatory is 800 meters lower than Mt. Pulag.

One of its distinct attraction for would be trekkers is its intact mossy forest, explained Bokod Mayor Mauricio Macay.

But the more detailed and specific objective of the Project promotion was explained by lead project implementor, the Jaime V. Ongin Foundation, Inc. (JVOFI), which is to establish the boundaries of Mt. Purgatory Ecotourism Site; conduct assessment of the trees, floara and fauna and endangered endemic species of the forest through resource inventory and biodiversity profiling; prepare a forest management and land use plan for Mt. Purgatory consistent with existing management plans of the UARBRR, Municipal Comprehensive land Use Plan (MCLUP) and Bokod Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP) ; and to capacitate the LGU and the communities to strongly protect and manage Mt. Purgatory as an ecotourism destination.

With the Biodiversity profiling, Benguet State University was tapped to lead the objective, something the school has already completed last year while in the process of properly identifying the flora and fauna species with its common English names.

"We cannot yet properly disseminate the names of the species of flora and fauna as of this time, because we just had their names identified by the locals through their native names," said Kenneth Laruan of BSU.

The presentation of the biodiversity profiling will be properly presented on March this year after the proper identification from the University of the Philippines will be released, Laruan added.

It's not only the mossy forest that will attract trekkers but wildlife profilers as well said, John Buasen, local guide and president of the Association of Bokod Adventure Ecoguides (Abadeg).

"The mossy forest is the sanctuary of the Philippine Cloud Rat or commonly called 'bued'," Buasen explained. He, however, lamented it is being hunted by locals from the nearby villages.

The cloud rat is a nocturnal rat which feeds on some fruit bearing trees.

"Other species of birds and mammals are still to be properly identified and disseminated later," added Gieson Madiano, Municipal Tourism officer of Bokod.

A Memorandum of Agreement to support the project was signed by Governor Nestor Fongwan, DENR's Paquito Moreno, NPC's Sonny Garcia, DOT-CAR Ed Jularbal, JVOFI Rosario Lopez, Bokod Mayor Mauricio Macay, BSU president Ben Ladilad and John Buasen in simple ceremony.

On the other hand, Fongwan stressed the need to implement an aggressive comprehensive land use plan to save the remaining forests of Benguet, pointing out the role of the DENR in delineation of the boundaries of the area from its neighboring municipalities.

"The move to support this project is to trigger economic gains through tourism in the area," said Fongwan.

"But the Municipality of Bokod also must have to look on how to reforest the denuded pine forests in Mt. Mangakew," he added.

Mt. Mangakew is one of the areas traversing the trek to Mt. Purgatory.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 27, 2014.

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