In a place where we least know lies the Garden of Eden: beautiful chartreuse fields in unison with magnificent emerald mountains, grassy plains and an azure sky with fresh air encompassing the vicinity.

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Photo by Konstantin Nikiforov
While the place is rich in cultural biodiversity, it is something we are now reinforcing to protect. The Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park is a rare mountain grassland that can only be found in the hearts of Mindoro.

The area is more than seventy thousand hectares wide, as wide as seventy thousand sports field are. It has all the characteristics a forest could have – rugged terrains, river gorges and plateaus. The two Mountains have almost the same levels of sea, with Mt. Baco having a little hundred more, and are considered both the highest peaks.

The place is now under proposal for expansion in the west side zone, where they found traces of a dwarf buffalo (Bubalus mindorensis). Having more land means more protection for these species and in doing so will also preserve their habitat.

It is a well-known fact that the Philippines has one of the highest numbers of endemic species and rates of biodiversity in the world. The Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park is one such site that plays host to many of these special animal groups. The mountain ecosystem that is contained within its grounds is unique.

We are in agreement with the environmentalists and conservationists on this particular issue. It is not only in this country’s and the citizens’ interests to preserve the plants, animals, and ecosystems that are here, but also of the international community and the world as a whole. If the endemic species unique to the Philippines become extinct and thus lost forever, it is not only the citizens’ loss but also all of humanity’s. Each natural location on Earth has its own charm, and if they are all appropriately preserved and protected, they can still be there for future generations to experience and be a part of.

There is a reason that the Mindoro site is being petitioned for World Heritage Site status – while environmental protection by the Philippine government is appreciated, the effort would be more effective with international recognition and contribution.

The rare and unique species and the special environment could be compared to the greatest treasures. Man-made edifices, buildings, and architecture are admirable and are also important cultural icons and contributions, but the natural environment must also be brought to the spotlight and be maintained and taken care of. The visitors and tourists should be encouraged to conduct themselves and move about in such a way in the nature zones that they do not cause damage to the area, while at the same time optimally being able to appreciate the wonders and beauty of nature.

The Tamarraw Program – Philippines at Noé Conservation says that the park is the home land of thirty five other endemic animals such as the Mindoro Imperial Pigeon (Ducula mindorensis), Mindoro Tarictic Hornbill (Penelopides mindorensis), Mindoro Bleeding-heart Pigeon (Galliculumba platenae), Mindoro Rusa Deer (Cervus marianus barandanus) and the Mindoro Pine (Pinus merkusii).

It also shelters eight different watersheds. Emmanuel Schutz, the coordinator mentioned that it helps the ecological equilibrium in Occidental and Oriental Mindoro. The place is also home to four groups of Mangyan indigenous people, added Schutz, a bridge between indigenous culture and biodiversity.

The mentioned groups are namely Tau-buid, Buhid, Bangon and Batangan. In an interview with the leader of the Tau-buid tribe, Fausto Novelozo, they appealed that their lives are strongly connected to the variety of creatures found in Iglit.

A geographer, Bernard Nietschmann agrees. “Where there are indigenous people with a homeland, there are still biologically rich environments”. It is said that out of a hundred and twenty eight biologically diverse areas in our country, ninety six are in the ancestral lands of indigenous people.

A solution would be to blend environmental awareness into tourism. Tourism is an economic sector that is heavily promoted by the government, because it is a large source of income and revenue. Instead of urban developments on natural areas, a better idea would be minimal human infrastructure so as to allow the most natural space to be there and to be open and available. Green urban planning and sustainable development are all good and well, and show positive change and awareness of the importance of health, environment protection and concern, and sustainability and cooperative growth.

Written by John Michael Tapiador for:
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