Massive economic loss seen due to temporary closure of Mt. Apo

The local government of Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur is expected to lose millions of economic revenues after the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of Mount Apo Natural Park (MANP) extended the temporary closure of Mt. Apo, according to an official.

After careful evaluation last week, the PAMB has decided to extend the temporary closure of all trails and access points to MANP for trekking and camping activities until the end of April 2024 as a measure to the ongoing El Niño phenomenon, which has led to a prolonged dry spell and increased the risk of wildfires, threatening the park’s diverse ecosystems and the safety of visitors.

Sta. Cruz Tourism and Information officer Julius Paner told Edge Davao on Monday that for the whole month of April, they have more than 400 trekkers booked and paid to Sta. Cruz trail.

He said this translates to millions of pesos of economic value which the community is supposed to benefit, from tour guiding fees, porter services, transportation, etc.

“Ingon ana ka dako ang impact nga nawala when the closure for trekking was extended up to April 30 this year. Not to mention the inconvenience it has given to trekkers who already have plane tickets to Davao,” Paner said.

Paner said he personally appealed to the Executive Committee of PAMB to consider allowing those paid trekkers to pursue the climb but with stricter measures.

“Closure is not the only means to mitigate bushfires. We can always employ a circular approach, a win-win solution so as not to sacrifice the economic aspect. For now, our trail and campsites are wet. On that same day, the decision was made to extend closure nagsugod pud ug bundak ang ulan, three straight days of really heavy downpours. Unfortunately, even if it rains until April 30 it will no longer reverse the decision. But that is how it works, the closure was a collective wisdom by the PAMB EXECOM that we are bound to respect and follow,” Paner said.

Meanwhile, PAMB requested that all trekkers and mountaineers who have planned excursions during the closure period to contact their respective organizers to reschedule their climbs.

The PAMB is dedicated to safeguarding the rich biodiversity of Mt. Apo and ensuring the well-being of all visitors.

“As such, we consider this temporary closure essential for the protection of the park and its inhabitants,” it said in a statement.

The board vowed to remain vigilant, continuously monitoring the situation, and will provide timely updates regarding the reopening of the park.

“We appeal to the public’s sense of responsibility to join us in this preventive measure to preserve the natural beauty and integrity of Mt. Apo. We thank you for your support and cooperation in helping us protect one of the nation’s most treasured natural landmarks,” it said.

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