DENR and ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has partnered with Misamis University in advancing for effective protected area management: The MMRNP Protected Area Management Plan 2022-2032
The Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park (MMRNP) is the source of sustaining lives, communities, industries specially agriculture in the province of Misamis Occidental and parts of Zamboanga provinces. Due to its immense importance, MMRNP was declared a national park and watershed reservation in 1971 by virtue of RA 6266, and pursuant to the NIPAS Act, it was resurveyed and formally established as a Protected Area and its peripheral areas as buffer zones in 2000. Further, by virtue of RA 9003, it was declared as Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park. It is a watershed providing support to agriculture, industries, communities and households of the three provinces, and home of varied endemic wild species of flora and fauna, and with vast area of old growth forest that is a major long-term carbon sink.
All these precious and treasured resources that sustain lives also contributed to the declaration of Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park as the 29th ASEAN Heritage Park in 2011. Mt. Malindang as an AHP added to the network of established "protected areas of high conservation importance, preserving in total a complete spectrum of representative ecosystems of the ASEAN region." The inclusion of MMRNP contributes to one of the flagship program of the ASEAN which is the ASEAN Heritage Parks Programme, thereby will help achieve the mission of ACB to "generate greater awareness, pride, appreciation, enjoyment and conservation of ASEAN's rich natural heritage". Moreover, its presence will also lead to further collaborations and partnerships of AHP sites. Along with other protected areas, MMRNP is constantly exposed to different natural and man-made destruction and threats. As mentioned in the Protected Area Management Plan (PAMP) 4 th Edition, these threats that protected areas are facing include climate change effects, introduced species, visitor impacts, vandalism, poaching, pollution events, development and extractive activities, and extreme storms and wildfire. With this, it is imperative for policy makers, governing bodies and other partner stakeholders to be collaboratively responsive and visionary in planning effective strategies.
In June 7, 2021, Misamis University signed a Contract of Agreement with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) for the revision and updating of the General Management Plan, now called the Protected Area Management Plan (PAMP). The revision of the PAMP was mandated on the issued Technical Bulletin No. 2016-08 “Clarifying the Protected Area Management Planning Process and Providing the Annotated Outline for Protected Area Management Plans” from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)- Biodiversity Management Bureau. Meanwhile, the ACB, whose mission is to facilitate regional cooperation and deliver capacity building services to the ASEAN Member States (AMS) in conserving biodiversity, has generously supported this endeavor by granting additional financial support. The PAMP is a blueprint intended for an effective management of Mt. Malindang and subsequently address the current and future MMRNP management problems and concerns. Through the Misamis University Community Extension Program (MUCEP) led by EnP. Grace V. Villanueva together with MUCEP staff For. Bobby B. Alaman, For. Jersam C. Calago, Goldah Grace D. Sultan, and Hanzen D. Tomatao, organized series of online and face-to-face consultation, updating and planning workshops attended by the Technical Working Group (TWG) members of MMRNP, and later by other stakeholders.
The revisions on the plan were the results of several reviews and workshops by the MMRNP TWG and information from the primary and secondary data from articles, MMRNP studies such as the SEAMS, BAMS 1, and 2, and published researches on MMRNP. Insights and recommendations from other reviewers were also incorporated. Also, other major sources of data in revising the PAMP were the various plans and programs from the provincial government, cities and municipalities such as the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), Annual Investment Plan (AIP), Provincial Physical Framework Plan (PPFP), Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSPP), among others. This approach recognized the importance of consultative, iterative, and interactive planning.
The contents of the PAMP are based on the stipulated guidelines in the DENR TB No. 2016-08. The PAMP 4th Edition consisted of Executive Summary, Description of the Protected Area, Bio-Physical Profile, Socio- Cultural and Economic Profile, Current and Proposed Programs and Projects, and Threats, Issues and Concerns. Highlights in the PAMP are the key features or values of the protected area, stakeholders and their roles in the management, maps on biodiversity, values, and threats, and the situational analysis. As stated in the PAMP 4th Edition, it was identified in the situational analysis that there are various interrelated and deep-seated community-based policy, management, governance, and socio- economic issues that caused the emergence of the current core problem which is the "Lack of unified vision, collaborative actions, and resource sharing among stockholders towards protection of Mt. Malindang." To address these concerns and issues confronting MMRNP, the updated PAMP has these holistic and inclusive
An ecologically-balanced ecosystem in the region with economically stable communities living in a disaster and climate change – resilient environment for all life forms; and
To protect Mt. Malindang biodiversity and sustain its watershed value through responsible stewardship and partnership to improve the quality of life of all forms therein.
Moreover, it adheres to these Core Values: Respect for all life forms, Integrity, Objectivity and Collaboration. These are specifically defined by these Goals:
1. To protect, conserve and preserve the biodiversity and ecological balance of MMRNP;
2. To actively engage the Subanen to become one of the key players in Mt. Malindang conservation and protection, improve;
3. To strengthen partnership with MMRNP stakeholders; and
4. To generate resources for sustainable development in Mt. Malindang.
The persistent causes of these issues were identified by the TWG despite existing and previous programs and projects of DENR-PAO, PAMB and other partner stakeholders in MMRNP. Specifically, these are due to the lack of a comprehensive and updated MMRNP resource database, a deficiency in implementation of the previously identified provisions, passiveness of other PAMB members and instability of MMRNP PAMO technical staff focused on MMRNP, lack of coordination system and cooperation between LGUs and MMRNP communities, no clear demarcation on PA boundaries and insufficient management zones, scarcity of resources and budget for the implementation, lack of defined protection roles among Subanens and Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP) for some Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claims (CADC), persistent poverty among growing MMRNP resident population, land speculation and perceived influx of wealthy migrants, and lack of alternative and sustainable livelihood and marketing support to existing livelihood. All of these identified problems and causes resulted to the "Presence of forest destruction, biodiversity loss and widespread poverty in MMRNP".
As quoted in the MMRNP PAMP 4th Edition, "Although the threats and weaknesses were many, strengths and opportunities likewise abound as evidenced by the MMRNP previous laws, plans, programs and projects. These strengths and opportunities included legal documents and administrative orders, dedicated previous and present DENR-PAO and PENRO staff, programs and projects by "some" committed MMRNP PAMB members, LGU, other agencies, and other initiatives by local POs, academe, and CSOs for MMRNP." Thus, updated MMRNP 2022-2031 PAMP contained the unified vision, planned collaborative actions and resource sharing among stockholders towards protection of Mt. Malindang.
These collective efforts in the preparation and revision of the MMRNP PAMP were made possible by the unceasing support and funding of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Protected Area Management Office (DENR- PAMO) spearheaded by PENRO Rey Fernandez. Sincere acknowledgement also to the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) through Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim for their generous support and assistance, and Ms. Rhia C. Galsim for the technical assistance.
Acknowledgement is also due to PASu Angel Jumawan and PAMO staff, offices of the Provincial Government of Misamis Occidental, NCIP, and LGUs for their full support and assistance in providing pertinent files. Nonetheless, a heartfelt appreciation to the Misamis University President, Dr. Karen Belina F. De Leon for resource sharing and permitting the MUCEP staff to facilitate and accomplish this partnership endeavor. Also, utmost recognition of the MMRNP TWG and other reviewers for their invaluable efforts, inputs, and contributions to the updating and revision of the MMRNP PAMP.
Some of us may not directly and immediately feel the effects of these issues and problems, but, should we wait for that time when all is too late? Threats that are identified in the MMRNP PAMP call for collaborative and participative response not only from policy makers and governing bodies but also from highland and lowland communities. A comprehensive and effective management of Mount Malindang Range Natural Park, will solve not only environmental protection and conservation issues therein, but also eliminate and mitigate threats to the culture, health and welfare of the people, industries, wellbeing of communities in Misamis Occidental and environs, as well as contribute to Sustainable Development Goals No. 1, 3, 6, 11, 13, 15, and 17 which are no poverty, good health and wellbeing, clean water and sanitation, sustainable cities and communities, climate action, life on land and partnerships for the goals respectively and finally address local impacts of climate change.