The Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental has been included on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage List.
The decision to inscribe the range on the World Heritage list was reached during the 38th Session of the Unesco World Heritage Committee in Qatar on Monday afternoon (5 p.m. Manila time).
Mt. Hamiguitan, which straddles by the municipalities of San Isidro and Gov. Generoso, is a nesting and feeding area of Philippine eagles, the country’s national bird and the world’s second-largest eagle.
But the range is more known for its unique pygmy forest, 225 hectares 100-year-old bonsai trees.
The 6,834-hectare sanctuary is also home to Golden Crown flying foxes, Philippine tarsiers, Philippine warty pigs, Philippine brown deer and the Philippine Mossy-pygmy fruit bat.
A total of 53 bird species, such as the dark-eared brown dove and the Tarictic horbill, are found in the sanctuary.
It was declared a protected area in 2004.
“Mount Hamiguitan is highly significant in the Philippines’ 7th ranking among the 17 biologically rich countries of the world. The site represents the fast disappearing habitats of globally important species of plants and animals,” a paper submitted by the Davao Oriental government to Unesco said.
“The diversity of habitats and plant and animal species in this property is attributed to the geologic setting, that is, Mount Hamiguitan is an ultramafic terrain giving rise to an ultramafic forest and associated diverse habitats and flora and fauna. At the national level, this sanctuary is a conservation interest. At a global scale, it is known to be a habitat of globally important species of plants and animals,” the paper added.
Gov. Corazon Malanyaon, in an earlier interview, said the province would “expect the influx of experts, scientists and researchers” after the inscription.
“That would be great for the province, Mindanao and the whole country,” she said. “It is the first Unesco Heritage site for Mindanao.”
Mt. Hamiguitan Range is the sixth UN-protected area in the country. The others are the Cordillera Rice Terraces, the Puerto Princesa Underground River, the Tubbataha Reef, Vigan and the baroque churches.
Malanyaon, in a statement e-mailed to the Inquirer, expressed her “deepest gratitude to the World Heritage Committee for the inscription.”
“The conservation of this property is the Filipino people’s gift to the rest of humanity,” Malanyaon said. “The inscription is a celebration of the global partnership in our shared vision and desire to conserve these natural gifts for future generations. It is also a step forward toward the continuation of monitoring and preserving the fragile ecosystems in the mountain amidst changing climate and typhoon patterns.
“The DOT (Department of Tourism) celebrates Philippine biodiversity through this feat. This is the first for Mindanao and the first mountain range in the Philippines [to make it to the World Heritage List]. This will create more champions for conservation,” Tourism Assistant Secretary Art Boncato, who was also in Qatar, told the Inquirer in a Facebook chat.