Balbalasang nat’l park scores high in suitability assessment

CITY OF TABUK, Kalinga, – – The Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park (BBNP) passed the Protected Area Suitability Assessment (PASA) conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with a score of 97/100.
The assessment is part of the process for its enrolment in the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area System (ENIPAS) and a needed document for Congress’ approval.
The findings and observations are deduced from a series of ground validations, immersions, interviews with key informants and Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) members, and other stakeholders.
It got perfect scores in four criteria- Irreplaceability, the presence of restricted range and congregatory species with 30 points; Vulnerability or the presence of globally threatened species with 25; naturalness, intact natural cover such as forest, mangroves, sea grass beds and corals got score of 10 for having 95% forest cover; uniqueness or the presence of important cultural, geological and aesthetic features that support biodiversity with 10; and abundance or high concentration of species of flora and fauna in the site scored 5.
Only socioeconomic importance or the value of area in terms of recreational, educational, traditional use, heritage, and other sustainable uses are 27/30 points since hazard mitigation is yet to be institutionalized.
Meanwhile, the Regional Ecotourism Committee and PAMB members reviewed the 5-year Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park Protected Area Management Plan with minor revisions. However, the document is subject to final approval of the three barangays covered by the protected area during a public hearing slated on October 10-12 this year.
Among the amendments introduced is the change of title from Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park (BBNP) to Balbalasang-Balbalan Protected Landscape to attune to Republic Act 11038 or the ENIPAS which classified among its provisions protected areas into biotic, landscape, heritage areas, sea and marine habitat.
It can be recalled that BBNP created on June 17, 1972 by virtue of RA 6463 was categorized as a national biotic area.
Balbalasang National Park which covers the Banao ancestral domain composed of barangays Pantikian, Talalang and Balbalasang, is now under the landscape category considering the presence of settlements and other structures within, and recreation and economic activities done in the protected area.
The exclusion of 390 hectares area of the Minahang Bayan at Gaang from the protected area bringing down to more than 21,000 hectares the total area of the park supervised by the Protected Area Superintendent and support staff. The park now has a management office of three buildings. It will have a yearly funding in the yearly General Appropriations Act. **PIA Kalinga

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