Angat rainforest park spotlights biodiversity hotspot
MANILA, Philippines – A rainforest park was opened to the public on December 17 in Angat, Bulacan, considered to be a biodiversity hotspot in the country.
The National Power Corporation (Napocor) inaugurated the Angat Rainforest and Ecological Park (AREP) which will showcase the dipterocarp forest that dominates the watershed, the variety of wildlife that resides in it, and the reservoir teeming with huge tilapia and eel.
“Angat is considered a biodiversity hotspot and so the Angat Rainforest and Ecological Park will be a perfect learning avenue for environmental education and awareness,” said Napocor president Ma. Gladys Cruz-Sta Rita.
Napocor is the government agency tasked to manage 11 watershed systems in the country including Angat watershed.
Angat Watershed is home to 290 endemic species of known non-woody and woody plants like bagtikan, tanguile and yakal no longer found in other forests in the country.
There are 66 recorded species of vertebrates in the watershed and 43 species of birds, making it a favored destination of bird watchers.
Two of the most visible birds in the park are the Tarictic Hornbill or kalao (Penolopides panini manillae) and the Rufous Hornbill (Buceros hydrocopax).
Sta Rita said that the park will also help the corporation raise public awareness on the importance of preserving and protecting the watershed which plays an essential role in the lives of millions of people residing in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
“Aside from the rich flora and fauna in Angat, we know that it is also a multi-purpose facility that serves as flood control, a natural buffer zone against calamity, and source of water for irrigation of the agricultural land in Bulacan and Pampanga, for domestic water supply of Metro Manila and for power generation,” she said.
The Napocor president said AREP will also help native dwellers in Angat, the Dumagat tribe, to have an alternative livelihood as park tour guides, among others.
"They can demonstrate their skills in basket weaving using raw materials like Buho and Rattan or they can teach visitors their traditional methods in catching fish,” said Napocor’s Watershed management chief, Emmanuel Umali.
Umali said more attractions will be added to the park like the Angat Museum of Natural History, Dumagat Cultural Heritage Site, Seedling Propagation, and Rattan Gene Bank and Bambusetum. – Rappler.com
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