THE public and private sectors seek to establish a conservation center in Mt. Apo that aims to protect the flora and fauna within the Mt. Apo Natural Park (MANP).

The Mt. Apo Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center is envisioned as a holistic center that will mainly conduct animal rescue but will also engage in conservation and breeding, educational research, and ecotourism.

As a rescue center, it aims to provide rehabilitation and short-term shelter with the goal of releasing native wildlife back into their natural environment, said Joey Recimilla, director of the Policy, Planning, and Project Development Office of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

“This is already done in many countries all over the world and even here in the Philippines but we have to establish one in MANP,” he said on Wednesday, November 23.

The project is still in early development with MinDA establishing a technical working group that will determine the policies, budget, and location, among other details in coordination with partner institutions, experts, and local government units (LGU) surrounding Mt. Apo.

“May effort ang Minda to put it in the policy level talaga (Minda is pushing for the policy level) so that in the future there will be funding from the national government, and maybe foreign funders,” MinDA chairperson Secretary Maria Belen Acosta said.

Currently, Kidapawan City and the municipality of Sta Cruz have volunteered to host the center but Recimilla said the center could be inter-regional since MANP spans Davao Region and Soccsksargen.

“Our representative sa congress will be pushing for a bill na mag create sa center,” Recimillia said.

The estimated budget is not yet determined but the initial potential funding includes congressional legislation, regular funding from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), private sponsorship, and support from LGUs.

The creation of the conservation center is aligned with existing national laws that call for the protection of Mt. Apo and its ecosystem, including such as Republic Act 9237 “Mt. Apo Protected Area Act of 2003,” RA 7586 “National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992,” and RA 9147 “Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.”

Mt. Apo is listed as an ASEAN Heritage Site and UN List of National Parks and Equivalent Reserves. It covers 64,000 hectares of land area and is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna. ICM