Some 200 hectares of land on the historic Corregidor island will be planted with trees endemic to the area to boost its biological diversity and promote the tourist spot as a bird-watching sanctuary, officials said.
Manuel Escasura, acting regional technical director for ecosystems research and development service of the Department of Environment and Resources’ office in Region IV-A, said a mix of forest tree species and fruit-bearing trees would be used to reforest the island and make it more attractive to birds.
“We will plant fruit-bearing trees which will serve as food for the birds. The regional executive director (Reynulfo Juan), during his previous visit to the island last year, saw the need of introducing fruit and forest tree species that are more attractive to birds,” he said in a news release.
Juan said the goal was to promote Corregidor in Cavite province not only as a historic battlefield but as an ecological tourism destination.
“Not just to be remembered as ‘battlefield’ and national shrine noted for the gallantry of the Filipino soldier, Corregidor will be an eco-tourism destination for bird-watching. Yes, Corregidor Island will become a bird sanctuary,” he said.
Juan pursued the idea after a visit to Corregidor last year with forestry experts to assess the situation and plan rehabilitation efforts on the island as part of President Aquino’s National Greening Program, which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees by 2016.
He said the team of forestry experts from the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) would comprehensively survey, plan and map out the forest rehabilitation and tree growing activity on the island.
Initial discussions have been done with concerned agencies including the tourism business establishments in the area, he said.
On Sunday, the DENR signed a memorandum of agreement with Corregidor Foundation, Inc. and the Department of Agriculture for the reforestation effort.
In a ceremony, 50 forest and fruit-tree seedlings such as bignay (Antidesma bunius), lipote (Syzigium curanii), kalumpit (Terminalia edulis), aratiles (Muntingia calabura) and duhat (Syzigium cumini) were planted by the signatories, their staff and children of World War II veterans and war heroes.
“Initially, 50 trees will be planted in the selected area. The plantation area is preselected in consideration of its proximity to the tourism establishments and which will be tasked to take care of and nurture the planted trees,” said William Palaypayon, DENR Calabarzon regional technical director for forest management service.
But he said it was not yet the right time to plant as it was still the peak of summer. “We are still in the stage of ‘production and hardening’ of seedlings and ‘plantation site preparation.’ Actual planting will commence at the onset of rain in June and July,” he said.