Members of the public and private sector joined the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) management in a reforestation activity held Saturday.
Local police officers and park management staff represented the public sector, while local doctors, engineers, bankers, and members of the tourism sector in Puerto Princesa represented the private sector in the activities. The Grand Palawan Taraw Eagles Club, a local socio-civic organization, also joined.
The activity is part of the park management’s ongoing efforts to protect PPUR’s Forest Corridor, which faces threats of land grabbing, according to park superintendent Beth Maclang. She explained that even within the park’s jurisdiction, land prospectors have been trying to occupy parcels of land and sell them later on. Illegal occupation also resulted in deforestation due to clearing activities.
“Marami ang mga tao na community members din na nag-attempt na mag-occupy ng forest, tapos ibebenta later on, kaya maraming puwede kasuhan if mag-insist,” she said in an interview.
After the tree planting activity, volunteers also held a coastal cleanup at Sabang Beach. According to Maclang, the reforestation efforts will continue in the next few days.
The Underground River and its surrounding forests are classified as a protected area and a World Heritage Site. Local laws protect the critical areas, mostly forests and highlands, from being occupied or developed for commercial purposes. This is to preserve the natural biodiversity of the area, which is home to several endangered species of flora and fauna.