Philippines has 415 classified caves
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - December 21, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The country now has 415 classified caves that the government is required to preserve and ensure their sustainable use, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced yesterday.

The DENR made the announcement by issuing Memorandum Circular No. 2015-08, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9072 or the National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act.

The law has mandated the DENR to formulate, develop and implement a cave management program to conserve and protect the country’s cave resources.

Under the memorandum circular, seven caves were categorized as Class I for their delicate and fragile geological formations and threatened species. These include the Nical Cave in Dasol, Pangasinan; the Sung Wan and Kaping Caves in Tayabas City, Quezon; and the Burial Cave in Caraga, Davao Oriental.

Class I caves are limited to mapping, photography, educational and scientific purposes, and are closed for ecotourism activities.

Thirty-six caves were categorized as Class II. These have sections with hazardous conditions and high-quality ecosystems that are highly sensitive to human activities, so it is necessary to close these sections either seasonally or permanently except for experienced cavers and guided tours or visits.

Class II caves include the Capilan Bat Cave in Sultan Kudarat; Licup Cave in Samal Island, Davao; and Guano Cave in Bangui, Ilocos Norte.

Eight caves were categorized as Class III, including the Balite Cave in Samal Island and six Punta Diwata Caves in Carmen City, Agusan del Norte.

Class III caves have no known threatened species within them or significant archaeological, geological, natural history, cultural and historical values. Such caves are open to inexperienced but guided visitors. They may also open to guano extractors and birds’ nest collectors, if any.

The distribution of the newly classified caves are as follows: six in the Ilocos (Region I); nine in Calabarzon (Region 4A); 19 in Davao (Region 11); three in South Central Mindanao (Region 12), 14 in Caraga (Region 13).

With the classification, personnel of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) in the respective DENR field offices will coordinate with the Protected Area Management Board, concerned local government unit or land owner in the preparation and implementation of a management plan on related activities within the caves.

“As with other natural resources, caves are natural treasures that we need to protect for the enjoyment of future generations, because they are important wildlife habitats and possess significant geological, cultural, historical and archaeological values,” Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said in the circular.

“This circular will guide the DENR, particularly the Biodiversity Management Bureau, and other concerned agencies and offices, including local government units on how to use our caves and cave resources appropriately,” he added.


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