RP's 30,642-hectare Mt. Kitanglad declared as ASEAN Heritage Park

January 3, 2010 11:57 am 

By Mike U. Crismundo

MALAYBALAY CITY, Jan. 3 — The estimated 30,642 hectares Mount Kitanglad in Bukidnon province in Northern Mindanao was declared as an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Heritage Park.

The declaration of Mount Kitanglad Range Protected Area was declared during late December’s 11th annual meeting of ASEAN ministers of environment in Singapore, it was learned.

Mt. Kitanglad range contains a wide range of biodiversity and is one of the priority protected areas in the Philippines established by law.

Mt. Kitanglad is the third highest peak in the Philippines after Mount Apo in Davao in Southern Mindanao Region and Mt. Iglit-Baco in Oriental Mindoro.

Mt. Kitanglad also joins 27 other ASEAN Heritage Parks.

Mt. Kitanglad covers seven municipalities and a city in Bukidnon province, namely: Talakag, consisting of 4,945 has., Baungon (3,157 has.), Libona (6,196 has.), Manolo Fortich (595 has.), Sumilao (3,532 has.), Lantapan (7,912 has.), Impasug-ong (1,985 has.) and Malaybalay City (2,317 has.).

Mt. Kitanglad was declared a protected area in 2000 by virtue of Republic Act No. 8978. It is the habitat of the Philippine Eagle, which is considered one of the largest eagles in the world and the most endangered. It is also where rafflesia, the biggest flower in the world, is found.

Record from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed that about 80 percent of the residents in the area are populated by indigenous peoples, such as Manobos, Talaandig, Higaonon, Matigsalug and Umayamnon.

It was gathered from the DENR that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was very “optimistic" that the declaration will further enhance the government's efforts in not only conserving the country's biodiversity but also in preserving the culture and tradition of the region.

According to DENR, scientists have discovered a source of anti-malaria drug in the bark of “Cinchona tree” which can be found in the area.

It was further gathered that Mt. Dulang-dulang, the highest point in the Mt. Kitanglad range at 2,938 meters above sea level, is a sacred place where indigenous people hold rituals of thanksgiving to the spirits.

Under the ASEAN Heritage Parks program, protected areas with unique, diverse, and outstanding value are given the highest recognition as an ASEAN Heritage Park.

The program aims to promote conservation of the region's natural heritage.

The DENR in Northern Mindanao, particularly the Provincial and Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENRO, CENRO) in Bukidnon and Malaybalay City deployed more forest rangers this year to continue implementing the environment preservation and forest protection in the area. (PNA)

DCT/MUC/jsd

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