Entry to Mt. Banahaw, surroundings still restricted

MANILA-- Several areas of Mt. Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape (MBSCPL), which hosts Mt. Banahaw that some consider a sacred mountain, will remain closed to the public even during this Holy Week.

Such restriction is among measures to help prevent further environmental degradation there, noted Salud Pangan who's protected area superintendent of MBSCPL straddling Quezon and Laguna provinces.

"We'll enforce that restriction until February 2019," she said, citing the 2016 decision of MBSCPL Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) to impose another three-year moratorium on entry to some of the areas.

Declared as still off-limits until 2019 are areas from Kinabuhayan towards the approach to Kristalino Falls to Dungaw to Tatlong Tangke and back to Kinabuhayan in Quezon's Dolores municipality, said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In Quezon' Sariaya municipality, DENR said still off-limits are Puesto Pagbuga in Brgy. Bugon and Bagong Ilaya in Brgy. Concepcion, Pinagbakuran and Concepcion Banahaw.

DENR further said Laguna province's off-limit areas are part of Brgy. Bukal in Nagcarlan, Brgy. Ilayang Sungi and Novaliches in Liliw as well as Bukal and Taytay villages in Majayjay.

MBSCPL PAMB noted in its Kapasiyahan 001-2016 that a previous moratorium on entry to such areas helped restore natural resources and physical make-up there.

Members of the PAMB agreed measures for protecting and conserving MBSCPL must be set already before lifting the on-going moratorium.

Among such measures are disaster risk reduction and management preparedness as well as enforcement of MBSCPL's carrying capacity limit, they noted.

Mt. Banahaw is among the country's most famous mountains due to natural beauty there.

Pilgrims and members of religious sects also visit Mt. Banahaw to perform, in some areas there, respective religious rituals particularly during Holy Week.

According to DENR's Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), flora in MBSCPL include 358 tree species, 19 vine species. 15 palm species, 39 fern species, 15 grass species, 42 fungi species and 17 shrub species.

Experts classified some 56 flora species there as endemic, noted BMB.

Fauna in MBSCPL include 246 bird species, 38 reptile species, 62 mammal species, 43 amphibian species and 193 insect species.

However, years of garbage dumping and environmental degradation in MBSCPL prompted authorities concerned to classify this area as "very high priority" for biodiversity conservation.

Source: Philippines News Agency