Sarangani provincial gov’t endorses Mt. Latian biodiversity conservation program

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 19 Nov) – The provincial government of Sarangani has endorsed the implementation of a conservation program for an identified key biodiversity area in the province.

Board member Cesar Nallos Jr., chair of the provincial board’s environment committee, said they issued the endorsement to facilitate the targeted launching by next year of the Mt. Latian Complex conservation project.

He said the initiative, which will be implemented Barangay Datal Anggas in Alabel town, will be funded by Deutsche Gesellschaft Fur Internationale Zusammernarbeit (GIZ)-German Development Corporation.

Nallos said they are fully supporting the implementation of the project, which will focus on the setting of appropriate measures for the protection and conservation of the complex.

“The project will help sustain, maintain and protect the ecosystem and biodiversity of the area,” he said.

The Alabel, Sarangani-based Environmental Conservation and Protection Center (ECPC) earlier proposed for a P2-million funding for the project under the GIZ and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Protected Area Management Enhancement (PAME) program.

ECPC is an environment research facility built by DENR through its Southern Mindanao Integrated Coastal Zone Project.

Nallos said Mt. Latian Complex was identified as one of the important biodiversity areas in the country and was declared by the DENR in 2002 as a priority area for biodiversity conservation.

“It is considered vital for the protection of the watersheds of several major rivers of Sarangani Province,” he said.

The complex, which covers four municipalities in Sarangani and three in Davao Occiental, was among the 200 key biodiversity areas in the country that were included in the PAME project.

It specifically covers a total of 95,077 hectares in the municipalities of Malungon, Alabel, Malapatan and Glan in Sarangani as well as Jose Abad Santos, Don Marcelino and Malita in Davao Occidental.

The DENR said the site is home to various critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable animal and bird species that are being threatened by forest fires and land conversions through kaingin or slash-and-burn farming.

The area was identified by BirdLife International as among the important bird and biodiversity areas.

It said the area’s forests are vital for the protection of the watersheds of several major rivers, such as the Big Glan, Big Lun and Little Lun, which feed agricultural lands to the north and southern portion of this city.

Several of the threatened and restricted-range species of the Mindanao and Eastern Visayas endemic bird area have been recorded in the Mt. Latian Complex.

These are mainly birds of lowland and mid-altitude forest such as the Lesser Eagle-owl, Silvery Kingfisher, Wattled Broadbill and Azure-breasted Pitta, it said.