Fire lines around Mt. Apo

READYING fire lines in several locations around Mt. Apo is one of the proposed initiatives of the regional Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR XI) in preparing for disasters such as the fire that hit the known nature reserve and tourist destination last March.

In a presentation to stakeholders of the Watershed Management Council, DENR XI representatives said fire lines, or barriers that can slow down or stop the progress of a forest fire, are proposed in the following sites around Mt. Apo: Lake Venado, Tinikaran campsite, Godi-godi campsite, Sitio Paradise-sa-Buag, and in Sitio Tumpis.

These are the strategic areas highlighted where officials found that fires could be best controlled from moving downwards the mountain.

However, DENR XI pointed out that no trees would be taken down in the areas, only the uprooting of grasses, snag roots and other flammable debris.

Last March 26, a fire allegedly caused by campfire not properly put out by campers in Camp Site 3 of the Mt. Apo Natural Park broke out. With the dry season causing much of the shrubbery to easily catch fire, it was one of the reasons for the fire to quickly spread, officials said.

Officials declared a “fire out” status on May 2, but with over 113 hectares of grassland identified as damaged, with damage to other flora and fauna still being determined.

Officials from the Mt. Apo Natural Park-Protected Area Management Board have since declared Mt. Apo off-limits to climbers for an indefinite period.

Mt. Apo is a protected zone covering three areas: Davao City, Davao del Sur, and North Cotabato, and is watershed area, ecotourism destination, a source of energy for different cities, and a source of livelihood for communities living in its foothills.

DENR data presented that the mountain is also home to 1,296 species of plants and animals, and having five distinct forest formations: lowland forests, lower montane forests, mid-montane forests, high montane, and summit-type forests.

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