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.