THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Davao has a P4.8 million budget for the rehabilitation and forest protection of the country’s highest peak, Mt. Apo.

Mt. Apo Natural Park Protected Area Operations Superintendent Eduardo Ragaza said the budget was released by the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) as early as July 28, 2016.

Ragaza added the finances have been utilized for the rehabilitation and development of Mt. Apo, planting of endemic forest trees, forest protection, and fire lines construction.

Also, included in the budget was the salary to be given to 25 new forest protection officers under job order, for trainings and seminars, and also for the information education and communications (IEC).

The agency earlier hired 25 forest protection officers to watch over and protect the mountain.

The officers are assigned in Davao City, Digos City, Davao del Sur, and North Cotabato.

"We had been conducting regular activities for Mt. Apo, but we intend to impose stricter measures this time after the fire burned some 115 hectares of grassland," Ragaza said.

The Mt. Apo Natural Park is one of the most significant protected areas in the country because of its diverse biological resources, especially that it is one of the nesting sites of the endemic Philippine Eagle.

The highest mountain is one of the key biodiversity areas in the Philippines and also part of the Asean Heritage Parks.

All the trails leading to the peak is indefinitely closed by virtue of the en banc Resolution 1 Series of 2016, due to the forest fire that lasted for weeks after trekkers apparently left a fire unattended on March 26 (Black Saturday).