Korean ecologists train NoCot officials in conservation

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/15 December) – Korean environment experts are holding a training here in stream ecological restoration for local officials and tourism workers in the province.

Prof. Kwi-Gon Kim, executive director of the International Urban Training Center (IUTC), is the main speaker of the five-day training-workshop which ends Friday and aims to come up with plans for urban centers on the conservation and enhancement of the ecosystems in areas that have tourism potentials.

“We want an integrated approach, meaning, a ‘win-win’ strategy in pursuing environment conservation and economic development,” Kwi-Gon said.

“There is a better way to pursue eco-tourism development and this is through using the ‘minimalist approach’, that is, to ease the effects or the hazards of development to nature,” he said.

As part of the field training, Kim and some 60 participants explored three major river systems in Kidapawan City — Nuangan River, the longest in the city, and Marbol and Matingao Rivers which are within the Mount Apo National Park.

According to Edgar Paalan, environment officer of Kidapawan City government, the mouth of Nuangan River can be traced to the Liguasan Marsh, which is believed to contain vast deposits of natural gas and oil.

The Korean team will also visit the marsh after a case study presentation about it.

Seven towns of North Cotabato traverse the Liguasan Marsh, namely, Libungan, Midsayap, Aleosan, Pikit, Kabacan, M’lang, and Tulunan.

Hyunkyu Kim of the IUTC, an expert on stream and wetlands restoration in South Korea, will share on Thursday his expertise on how to restore the balance of the marsh ecosystem.

The training course includes teaching tourism workers and officials of North Cotabato towns that have jurisdiction over Mount Apo National Park the accreditation process leading to its declaration as a UNESCO cultural or natural heritage site.

Liguasan Marsh and Mount Apo, the country’s highest peak that still has lush rainforests, might qualify to become a UNESCO heritage site, Kwi-Gon said.

City Vice Mayor Joseph Evangelista, a graduate of the training courses of the IUTC, said the training aims at “restoring what has been destroyed”.

For one, he said, the state of the landscape adjacent to the portion of Nuangan River that cuts across the city’s urban center is very dismal.

Based on a study made by the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), the river has dense settlement and poor infrastructures, meaning, it has settlements along river banks, irregular street layout, poor sewage system, and poor sanitation facilities, among others.

The narrowing waterways and inundating low-lying areas have resulted to disturbed steam flow, the study said.

It added the challenge for the local government is how to restore Nuangan River, develop its visual appeal and recreational potentials. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)