DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental as a World Heritage Site.
The declaration was made during proceedings at the 38th Session of the World Heritage Committee at the Qatar National Convention Center in Doha last Friday.
There are now six World Heritage Sites in the country. The others are Tubbataha Reef and Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan, Cordillera Rice Terraces, Vigan City and several baroque churches.
Dennis Salvador, executive director of the non-profit Philippine Eagle Foundation, said Mt. Hamiguitan is the first mountain in the country and site in Mindanao to be included in the World Heritage list. It features a wide area of naturally stunted bonsai or pygmy trees.
Salvador was among the delegates, led by Davao Oriental Gov. Corazon Malanyaon and Department of Tourism Assistant Secretary Art Boncato, to the UNESCO session in Doha.
Malanyaon welcomed the UNESCO declaration as a positive development in an effort to properly manage the rich biodiversity of Mt. Hamiguitan.
Malanyaon, who accepted the UNESCO title in behalf of the Philippines, explained that the approval would be a big help to the socio-economic development of the province.
Salvador said critical to the nomination of Mt. Hamiguitan was the expansion of the proposed site to include the Philippine Eagle nest territories in the range’s eastern flank.
UNESCO cites Mount Hamiguitan as having the highest and richest biodiversity in terms of flora and fauna per unit area and having rare and threatened endemic species.