DENR Region IV-B (MIMAROPA) Took Part in this Year’s 13th Annual
Philippine Cave Congress in Davao del Norte
by: Ma. Grace Laurente-Agatep
The Philippine Speleological Society, Inc. (PSS), a non-stock, non-profit and non-government organization which serves as the national network of Caving Groups and which has been largely instrumental in the creation of RA 9072 – The Cave Resources Management and Protection Act, held its 13th Annual Philippine Speleological Society Cave Congress with the theme: “Harmonizing Management Interventions for the Sustainable Use of our Caves and Cave Resources”. The event was conducted on April 8-12, 2013 in Davao Del Norte and hosted by Speleo Davao Inc. in cooperation with the Provincial Government of Davao Del Norte, Municipal Government of New Corella-Davao Del Norte and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources through the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau and the Department of Tourism Regional Office (RXI). The DENR-IVB was represented by the technical staff of the Regional Office and PENROs/CENROs headed by RED Edgardo O. Galeon and RTD for PAWCZMS Gwendolyn C. Bambalan.
The cave congress was organized to gather all caving clubs in the country and other stakeholders in the conservation and promotions of Philippine caves. Basically, it aimed to discuss, review and assess current cave management plans and explore different approaches in developing quality cave management plans and promote caving and adventure tourism in the host area by showcasing the natural wonders of the region. The first two days of plenary sessions were held in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte while the next three days of practical application and technical trainings were held in the Municipality of New Corella, Davao Del Norte.
Discussions during the plenary sessions included: State of Environmental Management Plans and Implementation in the Philippines by Carlos M. Libosada, Jr. of UP Diliman, DENR’s Approach to Planning and Sustainable Development by Dir. Theresa Mundita S. Lim of DENR-PAWB and presented by Marlynn Mendoza, Importance of Limestone Karst Habitat in the Evolution of Philippine Amphibian and Reptiles by Dr. Arvin C. Diesmos of National Museum, DOT’s Approach to Planning and Sustainable Development by warner Andrada of DOT, Puerto Princesa Underground River History and Tourism Initiatives by James Albert A. Mendoza of DENR-Palawan, State and Conservation Initiatives of the Bats in the Philippines by Dave Walden of Bat Conservation International, Cementing Biodiversity by Dr. Neil Aldrin D. Mallari of Fauna and Flora International, Monfort Cave History and Development Initiatives by Norma Monfort, Caves within Private Land by Atty. Alton Durban of DENR-PAWB, Caves and Tourism by Jason Garrido of PSS. Before the practicum proper, lectures on Basic Caving Skills, Cave Surveying and Single Rope technique were made.
Considering that the Municipality of Corella is famous in Davao del Norte for its number of caves that are potential ecotourism sites, the participants were divided into groups to conduct the survey and mapping, exploration and observation of fauna within the ten caves found in the said municipality as part of their practicum. Among the caves sighted and observed, Borja Cave was recommended for reclassification from Cave Classification III to Cave Classification II. If its reclassification will prosper, caving activities within the area will be properly monitored and controlled ensuring its propriety as ecotourism destination without prejudicing its cave resources within.
SECRETARY PAJE VISITS SNAKE ISLAND
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P Paje was in Puerto Princesa City last March 22, 2014 for an on-site visitation to insure operation of field station in idyllic Snake Island in Honda Bay, Palawan.
Provincial Governor Jose Chavez Alvarez and his staff accompanied the Secretary during his visit in the province and rode on-board a chopper to reach Snake Island. The said chopper was the first one that landed at Snake Island's helipad. Secretary Paje and Governor Alvarez were warmly welcomed by MIMAROPA's Regional Director Oscar C. Dominguez, PENRO Palawan Juan C. Dela Cruz and some DENR personnel in the island.
The Snake Island was chosen as a prime research center for the country’s coastal and marine resources or the National Coastal and Marine Center for Research (NCMCR) by virtue of DENR Administrative Order No. 2011-12 dated November 3, 2011. It was established to have a more effective and efficient conservation of our country’s vast biodiversity and serve as a field station for applied research on marine and coastal ecosystems, ecotourism and biodiversity. In effect, Snake Island was temporarily closed to any tourism activities since February 2, 2012 for restoration purposes. The existing DENR building was renovated and additional facilities such as mangrove boardwalk and helipad with gazebo were constructed. DENR also acquired a service motorboat - M/B Hawksbill for the conduct of patrol and monitoring activities within the island. (Vivian Soriano)
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