VANDALISMS, trash, liquors, and traces of drug substances were just among the things discovered by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Davao Region (DENR-Davao) during its assessment of one of the trails of Mt. Apo on February 11 to 14, 2021.
In a statement posted on its official Facebook page on February 17, DENR-Davao said "vandalism were observed along trails, campsites, engraved in the boulders, peak and even at the crater."
It also noted the "non-observance of proper waste disposal along the trails and campsites, sanitation and health protocols." Some of the trash it found included empty soda bottles, water bottles, and face masks.
The agency also said they found the "Possible use of prohibited substances due to presence of Marijuana found at the 87-degree trail going to the crater and peak."
The monitoring team, which is composed of DENR and officials and personnel from Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental, also discovered the non-observance of IATF guidelines in terms of social distancing limiting the number of trekkers from 50, which is the regular capacity, to 25 climbers per climb per day."
Irresponsible trekkers have been a problem to Mt. Apo for quite some time now. These kinds of trekkers are slowly killing Mt. Apo.
One infamous incident at Mt. Apo was the 2016 fire that razed around 115 hectares of forests and grasslands. No one was charged because authorities were not able to pinpoint a suspect. However, the fire was believed to have been caused after trekkers left a campfire unattended. Rehabilitation efforts have been implemented to restore the affected areas.
It is just right for DENR and the Mt. Apo Protected Area Management Board (Pamb) to intensify its enforcement of environmental laws for those going up to the country's highest peak.
Whether someone is watching the trekkers or not, it should be common sense to these trekkers to keep the environment of Mt. Apo or any other ecotourism site's clean. Don't call yourself a nature lover if you will be vandalizing or leaving trash at Mt. Apo.
Likewise, concerned government agencies and local government units should also be more stringent in implementing rules and guidelines to ensure the protection and conservation of Mt. Apo. A more sustainable strategy could also be put in place to ensure the mountain's environmental protection. Maybe, it could require a stricter process for those who wish to climb the mountain like having them register at DENR-Davao or at the local government unit.
"If left unabated, the closure of Mt. Apo might be possible in the coming days, when necessary, in order to pave the way for the immediate rehabilitation of the Natural Park's Trails and Campsites," DENR-Davao said in a statement.
Mt. Apo shared its beauty with us by allowing us to explore it. What it only asks of us is to protect it. A simple task that we can all do together.