Thursday, February 16, 2017

Recalling Marinduque's watershed forest reserves and other protected areas on this island


Amid all controversies surrounding Environment Sec. Gina Lopez' 'gift of love' to the Filipino people on Valentines' Day, the Heart of the Philippines continues to bleed. Strangely, she treats the Marinduque environmental and health concerns like it's something beneath her dignity to look into for reason only to her known.

To think that Marinduque was home to the largest copper mining operation in the Asia-Pacific Region. Now it is ranked as having one of the most denuded forests in the country. It remains the only 4th Class province in the MIMAROPA region today. Land area: 95,258 hectares; Population: 227,828 (2010).

And today, the threats of the potential collapse of more earthen dams high up in the mountains of central Marinduque, two of which had been breached causing untold suffering, are there for all to see - the stark evidence of irresponsible mining. 

All these have been thoroughly documented by scientists, local government units, civil society, media and environmental agencies. So too are the mining-related health impacts on the population - verified deaths caused by high levels of metals in the blood of children, related health concerns and definitely more of those in the coming years.

All these continue, remaining unaddressed by a government that at various times committed heavy complicity with the mines and is guilty of failure to protect its inhabitants from the very beginning.

This is a government with laws stating that mineral agreements shall not be allowed in virgin forests, proclaimed watershed forest reserves, wilderness area, mangrove forest, mossy forest, national parks, municipal forest, parks, greenbelts, game refuge and bird sanctuaries.

Think about it. In small-island, degraded and fragile Marinduque are watershed forest reserves, wildlife sanctuaries and mangrove forests all proclaimed as protected areas. That such areas exist in Marinduque is a wonder but perhaps unknown to many. 

Now these areas will be enumerated here before their destruction becomes real, imminent, or worse, they might already have passed that point of no return. In which case, there's no more point in calling the attention of whosoever environmental priestesses around. 

Still existing falls in Tumagabok, central Marinduque.
Photo: Morion Mountaineers Sta. Cruz Marinduque

The Marinduque Wildlife Sanctuary

Marinduque is one of only 8 provinces in the country with a proclaimed Wildlife Sanctuary. It is an area encompassing the municipalities of Boac, Gasan, Buenavista, Torrijos and Sta Cruz in Marinduque which are portions of timberlands containing an aggregate area of 8,827.96 has. There are portions overlapping with the mining tenements.

Proclaimed under NIPAS, Proclamation No. 696 8/17/2004, Parcel 1 consists of  5,597.75 hectares; Parcel 2 consists of 3,230.21 hectares


Proclamation No. 696 8/17/2004 Marinduque Wildlife Sanctuary

The Wildlife Sanctuary is described as a gently undulating mountain landscape falling into the coastal plains in the west and east. There is a large number of animals such as the Giant Borken Rats (Phloeomys cumingi) in this conservation area . The Philippine Pustelschwein (Sus philippensis) is now regarded as extinct on the island.



From the genus of the bats there are records of the subspecies Hipposideros pygmaeus, Eonycteris robusta and Rhinolophus rufus . In amphibians the frog species Rana magna macrocephala and Kaloula conjuncta exist in the area.


Philippine Duck. Photo: Wikipedia

From the avifauna are observations in this Wildlife Sanctuary of the Philippine duck (Anas Luzonica), the Luzon-Spatelschwanzpapageis (Prioniturus luconensis) and Rotsteißkakadus (Cacatua haematuropygia).


This portion of the Marinduque Wildlife Sanctuary map clearly shows the Marcopper built earthen dams (blue color) overlapping the protected area.


Torrijos Watershed Forest Reserve

This is located in Torrijos, Marinduque and comprises an area of 105 hectares. Proclaimed as a Watershed Forest Reserve under  Proclamation No. 463 45/1932.


Map of Torrijos WFR. It overlaps with a Marcopper mining tenement.

Naampias River Watershed Forest Reserve 

This Watershed Forest Reserve is also in Torrijos, Marinduque comprising an area of 417 hectares. It is covered by Proclamation No. 357 4/20/94

In this area of residual. rushland/grassland were monitor lizards, wild pigs, deer civet cats, hornbills, jungle fowsl, brahminy kites, and aquatic fishes as identified in a 2000 study sponsored by USAID with a small group of scientists, NGO's, the government (PAWB, BFAR, LGUs), and academic institutions, titled "Saving the Hottest of the Hotspots".



Overlapping the protected areas.
Marinduque mining tenement map from MGB
.
Marinduque Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserves

In 1981, certain parcels of the public domain and/or parts of the country were declared as Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserves. They included parts of Sta. Cruz, Marinduque, specifically:

The Islands of Sta. Cruz and the Island of Salomague, the foreshoreline of Bo. Dapdap and Alabo up to the mouth of Tagum River, Malinao Creek up to Salomague Point, and the foreshoreline of Bo. Cabuyagan to the eastern side of Dating Bayan River in Calancan Bay.

This was covered by Proclamation 2152 12/29/81.


Marinduque's Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserves in Sta. Cruz

"... the Islands of Sta. Cruz and Salomaque, the foreshoreline of Bo. Dapdap and Alabo up to the mouth of Tagum River at Long. 122° 04’12” and Lat. 13° 27’45”, Long. 122° 04’27” and Lat. 13° 28’25”, Long. 122° 07’01” and Lat. 13° 29’01”, Malinao Creek up to Salomaque Point at Long. 122° 06’42” and Lat. 13° 23’12”, Long. 122° 08’42” and Lat. 13° 22’18” and the foreshoreline of Bo. Cabuyagan to the eastern side of Dating Bayan River in Calancan Bay at Long. 121° 58’20” to 122° 03’00” and Lat. 13° 30’28” all located in the province of Marinduque..."

Relevant portion of Proclamation No. 2152 declaring parts of Marinduque as Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserves.



Mt. Malindig's ecosystem. Photo: Morion Mountaineers



The summit of Mount Malindig 

Elevation: 1157 m / 3795 ft 
(Jump-off point: Sihi, Buenavista)

The summit of Mt. Malindig is a representative sample of an ecosystem in Marinduque's biogeographic zone. Mossy, old-growth forests located above 1,000 m elevations such as those in Mt. Malindig are by law protected for conservation by RA 7856 known as the National Protected Area System Act of the Philippines (NIPAS).

Summit of Mt. Malindig. Photo: Morion Mountaineers Sta. Cruz Marinduque

Low-level cloud often covers this peak where an abundance of mosses, herbs and grass thrive on the ground and vegetation. Various shrubs and fern species occupy the areas beneath the forest canopy.


Makulilis Peak of Mt. Malindig. Photo: Morion Mountaineers

Makulilis Crater Peak of Mt. Malindig
(Jump-off point: Dampulan, Torrijos)

Mt. Malindig is the largest on the island, the most popular climb and hike for mountaineers and adventure groups.

Susong Dalaga Hill

Susong Dalaga Hill
Susong Dalaga Hill from Bagtasan isthmus

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