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Protect mountain barangays, Cebu City officials urged

/ 07:24 AM May 09, 2012

CEBU City officials should first prioritize the protection of  five mountain barangays that are being eyed for eco-tourism before allowing any investments there, an ecology group said yesterday.

George Chu of the Cebu Biodiversity Conversation Foundation said they were surprised that city officials were  more focused on finding potential eco-tourism sites for an enterprise rather than protecting existing watersheds  in the city.

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A Singaporean investor is reportedly studying five barangays for their eco-tourism potential , said Giovanni Stephen Romarate, Cebu City Zoo manager who’s helping scout for sites.

Chu cited in particular a  cave in barangay Tabunan which he said should have a good management plan.

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He said caves should be classified to protect tourists and ensure that the caves are garbage-free.

He said caves that are classified as extremely hazardous shoud be limited to research but off limits to the public. There are also caves  open to experienced cave explorers and to visitors with guides.

Caves are “fragile” and dependent on the presence of trees, said Chu and that developers hoping to  set up base  camps and zipline tours should “consider the habitat of birds, bats and other species” there.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) earlier confirmed that parts of the five barangays of Sudlon 1, 2, Tabunan, Tagbao and Taptap fall wtihin watersheds and are part of the Central Cebu Protected Landscape.

“That is why eco-tourism is a threat. Mountain barangays are the place for restoration of our biodiversity and protection of our watershed,” Chu said.

He said an ecological assessment should be done in  these areas.

“Barangay Tabunan should be protected totally. It’s the lungs of Cebu City. The river there has water to supply to the city,” Chu said.  He also said Tabunan is landslide prone-area.

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“The soil is agricultural soil, not limestone. Tabunan is a very good site for agroforestry and needs a good management plan,” Chu said.

Chu said the “government should adopt a holistic approach” in developing eco-tourism projects and tap the local community not only to help them earn income but also to protect the environment.

“We are conserving natural resources not only to develop a site for tourism but to develop a site for future generations,”  Chu said. Correspondent Tweeny M. Malinao

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TAGS: Cebu Biodiversity Conversation Foundation, Cebu City, Eco-tourism, George Chu, Investments, mountain villages
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