DAVAO City councilors expressed their support on the development plan of the Shrine Hills Connector Network that will link two existing eco-tourism attractions -- the Gap Farm Resort and the Outland Adventure Basin.

Last Wednesday two councilors, Jesus Melchor Quitain Jr. and Jesus Joseph Zozobrado III said they were impressed on the development plan of Architect Jim Palma pushed by Interface Development Interventions Inc. for Shrine Hills.

The Shrine Hills Connector Network aims to protect and enhance the existing natural features of Shrine Hills. It intends to develop more five proposed eco tourist sites: Shrine Hills Stormwater Park, Talan-awon Canopy Walk, Taytay Hilltop Walk, Shrine Hills Forest Park, Langub Road Park Connector

The Shrine Hills Stormwater Park, as a proposed eco-tourist site will use the land behind the Alexian Brothers Health and Wellness Center as a retention area for storm water run-off from Shrine Hills. The addition of local aquatic and marginal marsh plants in the area is eyed to reinvigorate local biodiversity boosting opportunities for wildlife tours and ecological studies.

The Talan-awon Canopy walk is the second proposed eco-tourist site will require the construction of a canopy walk traversing the forest cover along the slopes of the Shrine Hills.

Taytay Hilltop Walk is also an ecotourism site which will offer hiking, jogging trails for Dabawenyos.

The Shrine Hills Forest Park is the fourth eco-tourist site which will involve developing a forest park at the foot of Shrine Hills.

Lastly, the Langub Road Park Connector is an area where Dabawenyos can study of the geological history of the area, since the recent road expansion has exposed the walls of the hills.

“I was impressed by the presentation of the proposed by Interface Development Intervention Systems. There is lot of ways that we can fully utilize the area without destroying it and even at the same time protect it we can co-exist always with the environment, the community and all, and the development is still there. But we have to regulate, to ensure that this will not give negative effect to all the concerned,” Zozobrado said.

“Maganda, I think it is the only project that we can do in the area, we make it into Ecotourism site. We have Eco parks like mount Apo but we cannot go there. We also do not have nice park within the Poblacion area, imagine if it will be developed, the local tourists will crowd the area,” Quitain said.

He said that these eco-tourism sites will be developed by the private developers with the assistance of the city government.

“If you are a private owner, and you have a property in the area, this is what you can do with your property, so do not conclude that since you cannot build subdivisions or buildings in the area, you cannot gain profit, because alternative thing you can do in your property is to develop it as an ecotourism park and people now really love nature. If such thing will be developed within the city it would be very nice” Quitain added.

Last Wednesday around 10 lot owners of the Shrine Hills, and members of IDIS, and other stakeholders attended the committee hearing for the amendment of the Article IX, Section 3 of the City Ordinance No. 0546-12, Series of 2013, that will add Privately-Owned Public Open Spaces as one of the allowable use of the Shrine Hills area declared in 2013 as an Urban Ecological Enhancement Zone (UEESZ).

Based on the existing ordinance, allowable uses under UEESZ zone are only: all uses/activities in the Forest Zone, Improvement and maintenance of all waterway easement, Reforestation Development Projects, Other greening programs which includes enhancement of biodiversity projects.

In the proposed amendments presented during the hearing, the ecotourism projects, as compatible uses in landslide mitigation zones was redefined as “nature and eco-tourism attractions and activities shall be allowed with the barest minimum alteration of the soil…”.

The same proposed amendment also read that that for revenue generating eco-tourism projects, the city government will provide incentives to landowners or the establishment of an Urban Eco-Tourism Park within the subzone.