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Month: November 2017

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Climbers wanting to scale the highest peak in the country, Mt. Apo, will be limited to only 1,000 this summer as the area is experiencing dry season and the threat of forest fire is high.

The Mt. Apo Natural Park Protected Management Board passed the resolution last week as a precautionary measure to protect the country’s highest peak.

The board, composed of officials from the towns, cities, and provinces surrounding Mt. Apo, have also agreed to implement a common set of trekking policies designed to “be consistent with the principles of biological diversity and sustainable development.”

Aside from a strict prohibition on smoking, the climbers will also be asked to bring their own garbage on their way down from Mt. Apo.

Kidapawan City Tourism Officer Joey Recemilla said the board fears a repeat of the forest fires that hit and damaged a large part of Mt. Apo in 1997 and 2003 thus the decision.

Recimilla said walk-in climbers will no longer be accommodated.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources 11 Park Operations Superintendent Edward Ragaza said the status of the Kapatagan trail of Mt. Apo was also assessed last week.

He said the grasses and trees in many parts of the mountain have turned from green to brown. The report, Ragaza said, showed that there are water sources that might eventually dry up if the dry spell continue.

Jhune Bacus, chairperson of the Mountaineering Federation of Southern Mindanao (MFSM), meanwhile welcomed the news.

He said that there really is a need to regulate the number of climbers this summer. He also appealed to those who will be allowed to go to Mt. Apo to be responsible.

Haze update in Davao

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The effect of haze brought about by Indonesian fires here in the Davao Region has somehow improved after a heavy downpour Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, it was not enough to totally eradicate haze throughout the region.

After Sunday’s rain, the haze somehow thinned down and patches of blue sky can already be seen.

On Saturday, a heavy downpour also happened in Tagum City where the 16th national jamboree of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines is currently being held with about 20,000 scouts from all over the country attending.

The heavy downpour also caused mudding in the camping area. The two consecutive days of heavy rain which lasted for less than an hour each, has contributed to the improvement of the effects of haze in the region.

Last Friday, health authorities said that the air quality in the Davao Region is still “good to fair” despite the presence of haze for weeks now.

Department of Health 11 senior health program officer Gloria Raut said that based on the latest air quality reading provided to them by the Environmental Management Board of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Davao air is still within the 0-54 and 55-154 micrograms per cubic meter range which means that the air quality is still “good to fair” or “healthy”.

There is still no health warning issued until now by the DOH 11. Those with respiratory problems and those who would not take chances are however advised to wear the prescribed N95 masks which are the same mask prescribed during the Sars-scare.

Upon checking at the weather this morning, we saw vast grey skies with still some patches of blue in the horizon.

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The air quality in the Davao Region is still “good to fair” despite the presence of haze for more than a week now.
Department of Health 11 senior health program officer Gloria Raut said that based on the latest air quality reading provided to them by the Environmental Management Board of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Davao air is still within the 0-54 and 55-154 micrograms per cubic meter range which means that the air quality is still “good to fair” or “healthy”.

GLORIA RAUT, Department of Health 11 senior health program office

Raut said that once it reaches 155 and more, then then the air quality becomes dangerous especially to those who have respiratory problems.

For now, she said, people can still do their usual normal activities in the open air. Raut said that the concern as of now is the haze’s effect on the airline industry which would usually affect the vision of the pilots landing their planes.

Asked what preventive measures they could recommend to the public, Raut said that it’s best to limit any outdoor activities and to wear the appropriate mask, in this case a N95 mask, that would filter out contaminants in the air.

It was learned that haze may contain air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter that can cause diseases.

GLORIA RAUT, Department of Health 11 senior health program
officer https://youtu.be/sYEf_t1585w

But aside from the airline industry, expected to be affected as well is the agricultural industry.
Maria FebeOrbe, Department of Agriculture (DA) Davao assistant regional director, said that according to studies haze can adversely affect the plants’ growth including agricultural crops.She said that considering that haze is a pollutant made of dust, soot, ash which can settle on plant leaves, its deposits will interfere the photosynthetic activity of the plant due to reduction of sunlight’s penetration to the crop”.

Add to that, she said, there are perceptions that haze can suppress rainfall.
“Due to the presence of aerosols which result to more clouds containing smaller droplets and are less likely to release rain,” she explained.

With this, Orbe feared that crops needing water to yield optimally will suffer reduction of production levels.
The agriculture department said that the crop that is most likely to be affected is rice especially those planted in non-irrigated lands.

For now, the Department of Agriculture could however not gauge as to whether there is a concrete damage to crops due to haze as early as now.

They are however considering the possibility of decrease in production levels. Orbe said they are already gearing up if such happens.

The Pagasa is uncertain as to when the haze will clear out in the region and the rest of the country but they assured that it will disappear soon.