Trails to the summit of Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak, would be closed to trekkers starting May 1 to protect its forest from possible destruction, such as by wildfires due to the extreme heat brought about by the El Niño weather phenomenon.
The tourism offices of Bansalan and Digos City in Davao del Sur; and Makilala and Kidapawan City in North Cotabato, the Mt. Apo Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have agreed to shut down trekking to the mountain, Joey Recimilla, Kidapawan, city tourism officer, said in a statement on Thursday.
Both local tourist offices of North Cotabato and Davao del Sur have earlier scheduled this year’s Holy Week climb to the mountain from April 14 to 21 under strict monitoring and guidance from PAMB and tourism officials.
However, Recimilla said in an updated advisory released also on Thursday, the Kidapawan – Mandangan trail would be closed starting March 11 “until further advice and clearance from the PAMB.”
“Other Holy Week trek to the mountain would continue but not on the Kidapawan – Mandangan trail because it would undergo preventive maintenance from the extreme weather condition,” he said.
In 2016, a 2-week fire that hit the summit of Mt. Apo on the northeastern side destroyed more than 100 hectares of forest cover. (PNA)
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