Issue of September 1, 2019
Mt. Province
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Kabayan finalizes CLUP, FLUP to settle Mt Pulag zoning issues
by Ofelia C. Empian

The municipality of Kabayan, Benguet is finalizing its comprehensive land use plan (CLUP) and forest land use plan (FLUP) to settle issues on land use and management, especially those inside Mount Pulag National Park.

Mayor Faustino Aquisan said the CLUP and FLUP are being reviewed by the sangguniang bayan with the assistance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He said the review aims to harmonize the two plans in order to better address pressing issues as regard to the management of the forest reserve. 

During the special sangguniang bayan meeting of the municipality at the Capitol with various line agencies, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office presented the update on the actions conducted with regard to the Mt. Pulag National Park.

Forester Marcial Aloda of the Conservation Development of Penro said the delineation of the perimeter and boundary of Mt. Pulag was already finished in 2015. He said the various management zones in the national park have been identified.

Based on the preliminary land use zoning computations of Penro, the strict protection zone covers 7,415.73 hectares or 63.99 percent of the total land area of 11, 588.25 hectares.

For the multiple use zones, the agro-ecotourism areas cover 772.03 hectares, buffer zones cover 465.06 hectares, kinaba (traditional farms) cover 99.09 hectares, settlement zones cover 32.38 hectares and the sustainable use zones cover 2,803.97 hectares. 

Aloda said the zoning must be properly followed especially with the strict protection zones, which must be preserved.

He said after the municipality has coordinated its FLUP and CLUP, the office could now proceed to create their own zoning ordinance.

“This is a collaboration between the local government unit, the community and various agencies in order to resolve the conflicting land uses,” Aloda said.

Aquisan has agreed that setting up zones remain the best strategy to preserve the environment with the help of Mt. Pulag's indigenous residents, but said any plan not involving the community will be met by resistance.

He said they have already proposed an indigenous peoples summit with the residents of Barangay Gusaran, which is adjacent the forest reserve, to discuss the delineation with the agencies concerned.

Despite several discussions on the delineations within the forest reserve between government agencies and the communities, the mayor said that concerned communities have been apprehensive to the conduct of census of landowners within the forest reserve as they might get ejected from their homes.

According to the 2010 book, “Biodiversity and Natural Resources Management in the Mt. Pulag National Park,” settlements and farms make up 25 percent of the park, which expanded into commercial scale enterprises, some encroaching further up the mossy forests 2,500 meters above sea level, because of “tamed law enforcement.”

The book considers the expanding farms as the “single most destructive activity that threatens all biodiversity and natural resources of the Mt. Pulag National Park.”

DENR Asst. Regional Director Lagon said there is a need to observe the 20-meter buffer zone to agricultural areas and bodies of water like lakes and rivers.

“There should be easement from the river to the gardens, in some cases the buffer zone is even set at 40 meters, but it is not being followed,” he said.

Mt. Pulag National Park Superintendent Emerita Albas said the next move would be to put a mark on the delineated areas as a basis of the LGU for its zoning.

Aquisan said they are bent on settling the zoning issues within the forest reserve as they recognize the area to be instrumental in making Kabayan a “mystical” town in Benguet and a prime tourism spot in the province.

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