Government eyes rehab of ‘chipped’ Chocolate Hills
MANILA, Philippines — There’s hope for the disfigured Chocolate Hills.
But environment officials are still studying what approach to take to restore the natural beauty of Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, which were damaged in the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Central Visayas on October 15.
The earthquake killed nearly 200 people in Bohol and Cebu provinces and Siquijor Island and destroyed centuries-old churches.
Theresa Mundita Lim, director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), said the regional staff of the agency showed her aerial photographs of the disfigured hills, and she called a meeting to assess the damage and to determine what options to take to restore the hills.
So far, environmental officials have seen two options for restoring Chocolate Hills, Lim told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“Either we are going to let nature take its course and allow the hills to regenerate on their own, or we are going to give it assistance,” she said.
By giving assistance, she said she meant some form of reforestation that might be necessary to help the hills regain their world-famous shape.
But chances are that the best course of action is to allow the hills to heal on their own, according to Lim, noting that such natural formations repair themselves after a natural disaster.
Chocolate Hills, so called because the brown mounds of earth and vegetation resemble chocolate dollops from afar, are among Bohol’s popular tourist attractions.
Lim said the deck that gave visitors a panoramic view of the hills was destroyed by the earthquake.
“Officials from the Department of Tourism told me that many tourists canceled trips to the province because of the earthquake,” she said.
But the repair of Chocolate Hills would have to take a backseat to the government’s relief and rehabilitation operations for the devastated villages in the province, Lim said.
“That will have to wait until we have seen to the needs of the people, because they take priority,” she said.
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