Mt. Hamiguitan remains closed to public

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

UNESCO Heritage Site Mt. Hamiguitan will remain closed to the public in a bid to preserve its biodiversity.

Cynthia B. Rodriguez, tourism consultant and overall coordinator of the Mt. Hamiguitan Team, said they have yet to decide when they will open the site to visitors.

"Mt. Hamiguitan is not open for the public or for entertainment," she said during the Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City Davao on Monday.


Rodriguez said they want to conserve and preserve the unique and endemic flora and fauna at the site. Mt. Hamiguitan has 6,091 endemic species of plants, 102 endemic species of mammals, 186 endemic species of birds, 160 endemic species of reptiles, 76 endemic species of amphibians, and 67 endemic freshwater fishes.

She said there is a need to take care and conserve these endemic species since many of them are rare and threatened.

"There are some endemic plants that still have yet to be named," said Rodriguez, adding that there are plants that have yet to be studied. She said there is a possibility that some of the plants may be beneficial to the medicine world.

However, she pointed out that the site is not totally closed from visitors. She said they will only be allowing scientists, researchers, and some advocacy partners to visit the heritage site.

Rodriguez also said that they are confident that the tourist arrivals in the province will continue to increase despite the closure of Mt. Hamiguitan.

"Davao Oriental is blessed with other sites from reefs to ridges [wherein tourists can go to]," she said.

Also, to make Mt. Hamiguitan closer to tourists, without them climbing the mountain, the Mt. Hamiguitan Council will be spearheading in the establishment of an interpretive center that will showcase the features of the heritage site.

"With Governor Cora Malanyaon, iyang plano for Mt. Hamiguitan, mahuman ang interpretive centers within the next two years," Rodriguez said.

She said the centers will be established in Mati City and the local government units of San Isidro and Governor Generoso. This is part of their short to medium range plan for the Heritage site.

For the long range plan, Rodriguez said a management for Mt. Hamiguitan will be established and they will develope the site for tourists, they will then slowly open the heritage site for groups to come. She said once Mt. Hamiguitan is open, only 30 individuals may visit the site every month. Rodriguez said 30 is the carrying capacity of the site that will ensure its sustainability.

She also said the Mt. Hamiguitan Council will then evolve into a foundation that is tasked to take care of the site.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 23, 2014.


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