Cebu News

Mandated under R.A. 9072: Public asked: Help protect region’s caves

Kristine B. Quintas/RHM - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 is urging the public to help in protecting and conserving caves, as they are home to specialized mineral formations with unique and diverse flora and fauna.

“We are required to protect, conserve and preserve these natural treasures that we have,” said DENR-7 Regional Executive Director Isabelo Montejo.

He defined cave as any natural occurring void, cavity, recess or system of interconnected passages beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge which is large enough to permit an individual to enter, whether or not the entrance, located either in private or public land, is naturally formed or manmade.

Data from the DENR-7 Conservation and Development Division revealed that 224 caves in Central Visayas have been discovered and recorded, with 108 of them already assessed. 

Of the total, only 25 caves were already classified, with eight tagged as Class III, 12 as Class II, and five as Class I.

The latest addition to the list is the Lapus-Lapus Cave in Barangay Corte, Carmen, Cebu classified as Class III, which means the cave is safe for inexperienced yet guide-accompanied visitors, as these do not contain known threatened species or geological or historical values. These caves may also be utilized when appropriate for economic purposes such as extraction of guano (bat waste) and collection of edible bird nests.

Other Class III caves in Central Visayas are White Cave in Minglanilla, Bukilat Cave in Camotes Island, Mt. Lantoy Cave in Argao, all in Cebu; Ka Tikyo Cave in Mabini and Nangka Cave in Trinidad, both in Bohol; Crystal Cave in Mabinay and Bacong Cave in Manjuyod, all in Negros Oriental; and Cantabob Cave in Cantabon, Siquijor.

Class II caves, on the other hand, are those having sensitive geologic values or high quality ecosystems, as well as portions with hazardous conditions. As such, they may be closed seasonally or permanently, or may be open only to experienced cavers or guided educational tours.

Meanwhile, Class I caves are those characterized as having delicate and fragile geological formations, may be habitats of threatened species, provide archaeological values, and possess extremely hazardous conditions. As such, activities allowed in these caves are limited to mapping, photography, educational and scientific purposes.

Montejo said protection and conservation of caves is mandated under Republic Act 9072 (National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act).

Under this Act, the DENR is tasked to formulate, develop and implement a national program for the management, protection and conservation of caves and cave resources with cave coordinating agencies, the National Museum, National Historical Institute, the Department of Tourism, and the Local Government Units concerned.

Upon classification of the caves, the DENR field offices should oversee the preparation of a management plan on related ecotourism, scientific, educational, and economic activities. 

Part of the DENR’s cave management efforts is the prohibition of gathering, collecting, possessing, consuming, selling, bartering or exchanging or offering for sale of any cave resource without authority.

Caves may be open for public view only after a favorable result of the Rapid and Detailed Cave Assessment to be conducted by the DENR Regional Cave Assessment and Classification Team.

As of latest report from the DENR Central Office, the country now has a total of 415 classified caves, which the government is required to preserve and to ensure their sustainable use. (FREEMAN)


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