‘Road constructions put Mayon’s World Heritage Site application at risk’

LEGAZPI CITY—Mayon Volcano Natural Park’s (MVNP) application for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) World Heritage Site is at risk if the road network constructions within the designated protected areas site and the 6-kilometer radius permanent danger zone are given green light to continue.

This is the fear of the technical working group for MVNP nomination to be among the “elite group of destinations” in the world.

“It is really an advantage if the Mayon Volcano is inscribed on the World Heritage list because first and foremost, we will be having the branding that Mayon Volcano has reached the elite group of destinations worth emulating,” Dorothy F. Colle, provincial tourism officer of Albay, said during the Committee on Housing and Land Utilization hearing Monday.

Colle also said that the recognition will result to gaining promotional support from other World Heritage Sites and an influx of tourists in the province.

Mayon Volcano was declared a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (Nipas) Act in 2000 when then President Joseph E. Estrada signed the Proclamation Order No. 413.

Board Member Howard Sim Ong Imperial drafted three resolutions, which he presented Monday to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), government officials of barangays where four projects are currently suspended due to non-issuance of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), and concerned mountaineers and citizens making up the Society Advocating for the Value of the Environment for Mayon (SAVE Mayon).

SAVE MVNP. Board Member Howard Sim Ong Imperial (fourth from right) with the Society Advocating for the Value of the Environment (SAVE) for Mayon, the group opposing road network constructions in Mayon Volcano Natural Park . (Photo by RA Ostria)

The three resolutions are expected to safeguard MVNP and implement laws governing the protected area.

“We are not prohibiting infrastructures within the area, but we want the right infrastructure,” Imperial said.

During the hearing the committee also found out that more ordinances pertaining to projects done within the 6-kilometer radius danger zone must be written and passed.

There are areas outside the protected area that are still within the 6-km radius danger zone and the extended danger zone although there is a portion in Sto Domingo, Albay, where the protected area is outside the 6-km radius danger zone.

Mary Karol Fe R. Go, planning office I at the Provincial Planning and Development Office and member of the technical working group for the MVNP nomination to the Unesco World Heritage List, said that one of their concerns is that there are portions in Buang village in Tabaco City, where one of the DPWH projects is suspended, which falls under the protected area.

“Unesco is very strict when it comes to protection of the core zones. The protected area is a declared core zone of the World Heritage List nomination of the MVNP,” Go said.

“If the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) visits the protected area and they see that developments are going on, and these are developments that aren’t supposed to be done within the core zone, this threatens effectively our nomination and our standing in being inscribed as a World Heritage Site,” Go said.

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