Davao Oriental’s Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary inscribed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site

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Davao Oriental, Philippines— Davao Oriental’s Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) is the latest addition to the prestigious United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.

This was announced by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee after conducting its deliberation during the 38th Session today, June 23, 2014 in Doha, Qatar.

Davao Oriental Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon said it was an overwhelming moment of pride and joy for Davao Oriental to advance its bid for the inscription.  She thanked the World Heritage Committee for placing Mt. Hamiguitan in the much-coveted list. “Our Special thanks also go to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for their evaluation of the site and their constructive and open engagement with us,” she said.

After years of enduring the tedious and painstaking process for the nomination, Davao Oriental now tastes the ‘sweet’ fruits of its perseverance.

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Ma. Theresa Lazaro, Philippine Ambassador to the French Republic, mentioned during her speech Gov. Malanyaon’s headship that led to the success of the inscription. “The Governor has spearheaded the long process, and more importantly, the consolidation of wide stakeholder support not only for the nomination, but also the continued conservation and management of Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary,” she said.

The country’s sixth property inscribed in the list, Mt. Hamiguitan is also the first in the entire island of Mindanao and the first mountain in the Philippines to be inscribed in the highly-esteemed list.

Watch the video above to get a glimpse of the Philippines’ sixth site to be inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage Site

The MHRWS is considered one of the most important biodiversity areas in the Philippines flourishing with diverse species of flora and fauna. Situated at the southern end of the Eastern Mindanao Biodiversity Corridor, the Mt. Hamiguitan covers 31,879 hectares of beach, lowland, mountain and mossy forest.

While famous for its century-old ‘pygmy’ or bonsai forest which signifies its highly mineralized soil, Mt. Hamiguitan is also home to the endangered Philippine Eagle. The area has been officially protected in 2004 through Republic Act 9303.

Aside from being a natural, must-see attraction of the province that is poised to boost the province’s tourism industry, Davao Oriental is doubling its effort in the protection and preservation of the site, making sure that the influx of tourists will not disturb the wildlife haven.

“The conservation of this property is the Filipino people’s gift to the rest of humanity,” said Governor Malanyaon.

“We take seriously our responsibility to protect the site’s high endemic species of flora and fauna, some of which are critically endangered like the Philippine Eagle and the carnivorous pitcher plants. Mount Hamiguitan is likewise home to an expansive centuries-old tropical pygmy forest.”

“The inscription is a celebration of the global partnership in our shared vision and desire to conserve these natural gifts for future generation. It is also a step forward towards the continuation of monitoring and preserving the fragile ecosystems in the mountain amidst changing climate and typhoon patterns,” she added.

Covered by three political territories, the municipalities of San Isidro and Governor Generoso and the City of Mati are working hand-in-hand with the provincial government in crafting policies which would mean the reinforcement of imposing strict compliance to the Provincial Environment Code and guidelines that would help preserve and conserve Davao Oriental’s Mt. Hamiguitan. PIO

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