Open-close season for Mt. Apo

THE Department of Tourism (DOT)-Davao Regional Director Roberto Alabado III is proposing to implement an open-closed season in Mt. Apo for trekkers, a measure vital to preserve and protect the country’s highest peak.

The plan was proposed after the incident on March 26 of last year, 115 hectares of grasslands in Mt. Apo was razed in a fire, believed to have been started by trekkers who left a fire unattended.

“With this scheme, we can concentrate our efforts in managing and monitoring trekkers,” Alabado said.

Alabado said trek management plan should be implemented wherein climbing on certain period will be allowed but limited, adding that the possible open season will be every summer, the peak of trekking season.

The rest of the year will be devoted for rehabilitation programs for Mt. Apo.

“We hope our trekkers will understand that we are into sustainable ecotourism, where environment is a major driver in the industry,” he said.

The regional director said the Mt. Apo is a critical area as it is declared as a national park, sacred mountain of the region’s indigenous people or lumads and is rich in biodiversity, hence, a strict conservation programs must be put in place.

With this, DOT-Davao and organizers of Visit Davao Fun Sale 2017 is pushing through the Mt. Apo Boulder Face Challenge, wherein the event will be part of the three eco-sporting and adventure activities lined up for the annual tourism event set on April 16 to May 31.

The other two activities are skim-boarding competition in Mati, Davao Oriental and triathlon in Samal, Davao del Norte.

“We will request for a special permit from the Mt. Apo Natural Park Protected Area Management Board,” Alabado said, adding that only a portion of the mountain will be used solely for the event as it is still undergoing rehabilitation. The rest will be blocked from tourists.

The negotiation between the agency and the board is still on-going, and DOT and VDFS execom has yet to secure the permit needed from the board.

In a previous report on February 3, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Chief for Public Information Jayvee Jude Agas told SunStar Davao that all trails leading to the mountain are still closed under the en banc Resolution 1 series of 2016, thus, reminding those who are planning to conduct mountaineering or related activities not to continue with their plans this summer.

Agas said to date, the rehabilitation and developmental plans of the mountain is underway wherein P4.8 million was allocated and 25 new forest protection officers were deployed to ensure that a similar fire will not happen again.

The Mt. Apo, the country's highest peak, has been attracting local and foreign tourists hungry for adventure and the summer season is their favorite schedule, especially the Holy Week.
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