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Legarda: New Unesco site a reminder for Filipinos to care for nature

June 25, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The inclusion of Davao Oriental’s Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) World Heritage List should serve as a reminder to Filipinos to take care of the country’s abundant natural resources, Senator Loren Legarda said Wednesday.

“This wildlife sanctuary and many other naturally abundant areas make the Philippines a mega diverse country, but it is also one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, with a large number of species either endangered or threatened with extinction,” Legarda said in a statement.

“Thus the need for collaborative efforts among government agencies, local government units, and citizens to conserve our heritage and if possible, rehabilitate the natural resources that have been damaged by our irresponsible acts,” she said.

Mount Hamiguitan is a nesting and feeding area of Philippine Eagles, the country’s national bird that is endemic to the Philippines and is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Other endemic species such as the Giant Golden-crowned flying fox, a rare bat that is among the largest bats in the world, and Philippine tarsiers and Philippine brown deer, live in the 6,834-hectare protected area.

Mount Hamiguitan is also well known for a 225-hectare field of centuries-old bonsai trees.

“Mt. Hamiguitan is highly significant in the Philippines’ seventh ranking among the 17 biologically rich countries of the world. The site represents the fast disappearing habitats of globally important species of plants and animals,” the Davao Oriental local government said to the Unesco.

“The diversity of habitats and plant and animal species in this property is attributed to the geologic setting, that is, Mt. Hamiguitan is an ultramafic terrain giving rise to an ultramafic forest and associated diverse habitats and flora and fauna. At the national level, this sanctuary is a conservation interest. At a global scale, it is known to be a habitat of globally important species of plants and animals,” it said.

Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary is officially the sixth World Heritage Site in the Philippines. Other Unesco Heritage Sites in the country are Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Baroque Churches of the Philippines, Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, and the Historic City of Vigan.

“I am happy that we have our new Unesco World Heritage Site. I commend the agencies, local government units, and communities for working hard to preserve and protect the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary,” Legarda said.

“This triumph should also remind us of our role as stewards of our natural resources and cultural heritage. Every citizen should be aware of our collective responsibility to protect our heritage not only for the sake of recognition or inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List, but more importantly as part of our sustainable development goals,” she said.

Source: Inquirer