• Deforestation threatens Vizcaya cave systems

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    BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: Governor Ruth Padilla on Monday expressed alarm over the fast depletion of forest resources as well as the destruction of world-class cave systems in the province.

    The provincial chief executive said in her State of the Province Address that the forest cover in the province is declining hundred of hectares annually.

    “The province is within the path of tropical cyclones and is one of the top high risk areas in the country for landslides. The province is likewise vulnerable to the impact of climate change,” she said.

    Padilla noted that as of 2010, the province has a forest cover area of 181,435.60 hectares or 56.20 percent of the total protected forest area of 322,815.79 hectares.

    “This figure is declining annually by a rate, on average, of 697.32 hectares [and]if this is not arrested, an additional 2,092 hectares of forest cover will be lost by 2016,” she said.

    Padilla also said the province is rich in eco-tourism destinations but were “not given priority”, citing the Alayan Cave Systems, which she said could rival the Underground River of Palawan.

    A memorandum circular from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) listed the Capisaan Cave System as “Class I” with its  “delicate and fragile geological formations, threatened species, archaeological and paleontological values, and extremely hazardous conditions.” DENR officials said only activities for mapping, photography, educational, and scientific purposes are allowed within these caves located 700-900 meters above sea level in the village of Capisaan in Kasibu town.

    The 4.2-kilometer long Capi-saan Cave, otherwise known as the Lion-Alayan Cave, is considered the fifth longest cave system in the Philippines.

    Leander C. Domingo

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