1 28 Mt Apo UNESCOTo discuss on how to package Mt. Apo Natural Park (MANP) in its application to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Global Geoparks, the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of MANP had a collaborative meeting with Davao del Sur State College (DDSSC) held at the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) of Davao del Sur.

Mt. Apo Natural Park, aside from one of Region XI’s Protected Areas rich in biodiversity, a watershed and an ecotourism destination, is also the nation’s highest peak and a stratovolcano which is home to unique geological features such as the boulders assault trail, sulfur vents, hot springs and the white sand camp.

The collaborative meeting was meant to discuss and deliberate on how to best package MANP for its application to UNESCÓ’s Global Geoparks (UGGs) label, thus self-evaluation checklist was presented during the meeting. The team also gave focus on the Potential Research, Extension, Development and Innovation Needs Assessment (REDINA) Studies that would add to MANP’s qualifications.

UNESCO’s work with geoparks began in 2001. Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.

In 2015, 195 Member States of UNESCO ratified the creation of Global Geoparks label during the 38th General Conference of the Organization. This expresses governmental recognition of the importance of managing outstanding geological sites and landscapes in a holistic manner. UNESCO supports Member States efforts to establish UNESCO Global Geoparks all around the world, in close collaboration with the Global Geoparks Network.

To be recognized as UNESCO’s Global Geopark will show that the selected site has an exceptional geological heritage and it has the ability to mobilize local stakeholders to preserve these unique geological sites and educate visitors. Currently there are 169 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 44 countries across the planet.

MANP Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) Dr. Joel S. Pardillo said that the Protected Area Management Office of Mt Apo Natural Park is geared towards UNESCO Global Geoparks recognition with the assistance of the DDSSC.

“This meeting is the beginning of our partnership for future projects and there is a need for Mt Apo Natural Park to focus on research projects and collaboration”, he said.

On the other hand, PENR Officer of Davao del Sur Alberto N. Bandiola stated that such projects and endeavors with different partners will create scientific basis in creating new policies of the PAMB.

“These upcoming activities is actually a great challenge for the PAMB especially to its Chairperson Bagani Fidel A. Evasco who is also DENR-XI’s Regional Executive Director, to do more for Mt. Apo Natural Park (MANP) this year and the years to come,” PENRO Bandiola said.

| via PENRO Davao del Sur/Franklyn Buenaflor