Sohoton Cove and Bucas Grande in Caraga declared protected areas
Out of the ten priority protected areas in the Philippines, two tourist destinations in the region are among those that has been declared by the Philippine government, thru the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the NGOs for Integrated Protected Areas (NIPA).
This was learned from Miro Ajoc, coordinator of the Sohoton Cove located in the northern part of Siargao Islands and Bukas Grande during the visit of the first inter-regional caravan team recently.
According to Ajoc, Sohoton Cove is one of the hidden treasures of Caraga Region and has been declared protected area because of its uniqueness having rare species of flora and fauna as well as the marine lives present in the area.
The landscapes and seascape of the island is considered a surfer’s paradise with extensive system of old-growth mangrove forest and rich marine reserves.
Ajoc added that aside from the Siargao and Bukas Grande Islands, Agusan Marsh in Agusan del Sur was also declared protected because it is a sanctuary for wildlife. It is the most biologically diverse marshland in the country, where more than 200 species of birds from neighboring countries like Japan and China, and even as far as Russia spend during the winter months.
Other protected areas in the country are the Batanes Protected Landscapes and Seascapes, Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, Subic-Bataan Natural Park, Apo Reef Natural Park, Mount Kanlaon Natural Park, Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park, Mount Apo Natural Park, and Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary.
Located at the northernmost part of the Philippines, Batanes Protected Landscapes and Seascapes is composed of scenic islands and beautiful seascapes inhabited by the indigenous Ivatans peoples. It has a high level of floral endemicity and is a major flyway for migratory birds from northern Asia.
The largest and most important protected area in the country in terms of biodiversity is the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park. It is the home to 12 of habitat types and 40 species of wildlife (most of them endemic) included in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) list of globally threatened species.
The Subic-Bataan Natural Park is the major protected area nearest to Manila and a test case to demonstrate how the nation’s economic development can take place successfully alongside the conservation of the country’s last remaining forests.
The Apo Reef Natural Park is the biggest atoll-type reef in the Philippines and a natural haven for marine and bird life, and a variety of endangered plants.
Mount Kanlaon Natural Park in Negros is an active volcano and the tallest peak in the Visayas Group of islands, which is also a microcosm of the fragmented state of Philippine ecosystems.
Another protected area located in the central part of Mindanao is the Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park. This is the second highest peak in the country and the headwater catchment area for the major rivers of Northern Mindanao and home of the Talaandig, Higaonon, and Bukidnon tribes, as well as the Philippine eagle.
The country’s tallest peak and host to a diverse variety of endemic flora and fauna is the Mount Apo where its Natural Park has been included in the areas that has been protected. Mount Apo is the home to numerous indigenous cultural communities.
Finally, Ajoc said, the Turtle Islands in Tawi-Tawi is considered protected due to its wildlife sanctuary and is the only remaining large marine turtle rookery in Southeast Asia.
With these developments, Ajoc urged the participants to help protect these tourist sites that will serve as income drawers for the country.