Stricter trekking rules pushed in Mt. Apo

Published February 16, 2021, 12:04 PM

by Zea Capistrano

DAVAO CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region XI (DENR-XI) said stricter trekking rules are being pushed for trekkers in Mt. Apo after its monitoring team found trash and vandalism during its recently concluded monitoring and assessment.

(Photos courtesy of DENR Davao/ MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement on Monday, Feb.15, the DENR-XI said Regional Executive Director Bagani Fidel Evaso, along with some officials and protected area conservationists, climbed Mt. Apo during the long weekend to “assess the trail conditions and campsite situation in order to determine and strengthen preservation and conservation mechanisms.”

“Observations during the activity also led to pushing for stricter trekking rules because trekkers seemed to ignore the existing policies,” the DENR-XI said.

 “Trails and campsites were not just left with traces of footprints – so were empty soda and water bottles, face masks, and all other kinds of trash. Disappointingly, liquors and traces of drug substances were also observed in the area,” it added. It said even boulders were vandalized.

The DENR-XI also noted that Mt. Apo “has gained a number of visitors, to have a breath of mountain air over the country’s long weekend” as Mt. Apo trekking activities resume.

It urged trekkers to be more responsible and to follow the guidelines set by the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), which manages and regulates Mt. Apo.

“It is all our duty to protect the ‘King of Philippine Mountains’ from exploitation as it is also a royalty when it comes to mitigating the threats of climate change,” it added.

The new policies include the exclusivity to Davao Region climbers, limiting the number of climbers or trekkers from 50 to 25 per day, submission of medical certificates, conduct of temperature check and other health protocols. 

The DENR-XI also said that putting up facilities “for a more convenient trekking experience” has also been considered.

Evasco, who chairs the PAMB also held a dialogue with key stakeholders to discuss updates, new policies and intensified conservation initiatives for Mt. Apo Natural Park (MANP).

In a statement on Feb. 10, the DENR-XI said among PAMB’s conservation efforts is the establishment of a 500-hectare bamboo plantation through the DENR’s Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP). The DENR said the bamboo plantation is set to be implemented “within the year’s 2nd quarter.”

Evasco also directed the board members to “strictly impose the environmental laws, even if it takes calling out or facing off the ‘big investors’.”

According to the DENR’s website, the MANP, which has a total land area of about 64,000 hectares and an altitude of 2,954 meters above sea level, is an established protected area under Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 and Republic Act 9237 or the Mount Apo Protected Area Act of 2003.

PAMB also announced that the Protected Area Management Office of Mt. Apo Natural Park, in Sitio Baras, Kapatagan, Digos, Davao del Sur is now open to serve the public.