CORTES, Bohol, Jan. 18 (PIA) -- With little less than 400,000 hectares of agricultural, upland forests, open grasslands, beaches, fishponds and mangrove forests, keeping Bohol's biodiversity is assured with the government's efforts to declare the 16 protected areas in Bohol.
The declaration as protected areas assures that about 11 percent of Bohol's total land area remains as centers for maintenance of the essential ecological processes and life support systems, preserving genetic diversity, sustainable resource use and maintenance of the area's natural conditions as provided by the National Integrated Protected Areas Systems (NIPAS) in the country.
CONTROVERSIAL. Loboc-Bilar Manmade Forest, which is a favorite stop among tourists is within the Loboc River Watershed Reserve, a protected area where the government intends to exact environmental impact fees, which has become controversial. Many think that the roadside parking even by tourist vehicles is not enough to warrant the collection of protected area entrances and use of facilities according to DAO of DENR. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)
And as protected areas are identified portions of land and water set aside for their unique and biological significance, these are managed to enhance biological biodiversity and protected against harm of human exploitation, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Over these areas, regulation and carrying capacities are eyed to make sure there is limited or lessened environmental impact.
DENR has organized a Protected Areas Management Board (PAMB) composed of local officials, government agency heads, and people's organizations.
PAMB has regulatory, policy making, managerial, and monitoring functions, all deciding for the sustainability of the specific protected areas and on the basis of the regulatory policies supplied by the NIPAS Act and the Department Orders from the DENR.
In Bohol, which anchors its tourism industry on its ecological and cultural treasures, it might be good to know which areas are now declared as protected and may exact entrance and use of facilities as one enters these sites.
Owning the biggest swath of protected lands in Bohol is the Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape (RSPL), the forest acclaimed as the last frontier of the Philippine molave and stretches from Bilar, Batuan, Carmen, Sierra Bullones, Garcia Hernandez, Valencia and Dimiao with a total protected area of 10,452.60 hectares as per Presidential Proclamation No. 287.
After RSPL is Loboc Watershed Forest Reserve which covers the watershed areas that empties into the Loboc River catchment with 6,700.03 hectares.
Third comes Talibon Group of Islands Landscape and Seascape which comprises all the islands of Talibon towards the Caubyan chanel and then to the Calituban group of islands and seascapes characterized by the Danajon Double Barrier Reefs with a total of 6,457.97 hectares in protected areas.
Fourth biggest is the Getafe Group of Islands and Wilderness Area and Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve which also includes Asia's largest mangrove reforestation with 6,453.51 hectares.
Fifth is the Alejawan-Canhaway-Anibongan River Watershed Forest Reserve located in the mountains of Jagna-Duero-Guindulman with a total land area of 3,727.30 hectares, according to data from the DENR Community Environment and Natural Resources Office.
On the western side of Bohol is the Cabilao-Sandingan Island Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve which includes the mangroves and swamp areas of the islets of Cabilao and Sandingan in Calape with 2,919.01 hectartes.
Seventh largest is Panglao Island Protected Seascape which includes the seascapes of Dolho towards Puntod and Gak-ang islets with 2,447.54 hectares.
Eighth is the Alburquerque-Loay-Loboc Protected Landscape and Seascape which is shared by the towns of Alburquerque-Loay and Loboc with 2,200.03 total protected areas.
Ninth is Ubay Group of Islands Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve which includes the mangrove swamps of Sinandigan and the nearby islands with 1,170 hectares.
Tenth would be Inabanga-Buenavista Group of Islands Area Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserves with 1,103.72 hectares.
Eleventh biggest is the Candijay-Anda-Mabini Group of Islands Wilderness Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve with 908.33 hectares.
Twelfth is Calape Group of Islands Protected Landscape Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve with 792.72 hectares.
Thirtheenth is Pres. Carlos P. Garcia Group of Islands Wilderness and Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve with 348.48 hectares.
Fourteenth is the Tubigon Group of Islands area and Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve which covers the mangroves of Cabgan Island, Macaas and Tinangnan with 268.23 hectares.
Fifteenth is the Clarin Group of Islands Wilderness Area with 58.62 hectares.
Smallest but then with the most number of human activities is the Chocolate Hills Natural Monuments, a protected area with only 14.002 hectares of protection.
Just recently, about six PAMBs of the 16 protected areas in Bohol adopted the DENR Department Administrative Order in support of the NIPAS Act.
DENR DAO 2016-24 put up the revised fees for entrance and use of facilities and resources in the protected areas.
According to the PAMB-adopted revised fees especially for the Loboc Watershed Forest Reserve where the famous tourist stop in the man-made forest, every adult non-Boholano tourist pays P30, P15 for students, while persons with disabilities and senior citizens including kids 7 years old and below are free.
Non-Boholanos and foreign tourists pay P100 for their entry into the protected area.
As to the use of parking facilities in protected areas, motorcycles and tricycles pay P20 for the first two hours of parking, P5 for the succeeding hour and fraction thereof.
For cars and vans with 10-person capacity, parking is P45 for the first two hours and and P10 for the succeeding hour.
For minibuses and coasters with 11-20 capacity, the first two hours' parking rate is P60 and P20 for succeeding hour.
For buses with capacity of over 20 persons, first two hours of parking is P150 and P30 for succeeding use of parking facilities.
DENR through Provincial Director Charlie Fabre in Bohol, who sits as the Protected Area Supervising Officer, however, has opted to suspend the implementation of the PAMB fees imposition pending the crafting of the mechanics for the collection of entrance fees and use of facilities. (rahc/PIA7 Bohol)