This blogger, along with LOGSAC mainstays Hardi Joy Desuyo and Chester Mitz Manuel participated the SMART LAWIN Patrolling in Buribid Mountain Range, Tibolo, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur on September 2-4, 2015. Completing the casts from Sta. Cruz of the patrolling activity were mountaineers Ronie Torlao and Nelson Denson. Prior to the actual foot patrolling, the team were oriented by personnel from USAID-B+WISER about the use of SMART LAWIN software.
B+WISER has been very consistent lately of tapping local personnel, including porters and community residents to biodiversity and threats monitoring in areas within the Mt. Apo Natural Park (MANP) using the SMART LAWIN system. It is expected that the new system called Landscape and Wildlife Indicator (LAWIN) shall enhance the Biodiversity Monitoring System (BMS) which is already employed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
With the introduction of geo-spatial dimension to the analysis, the automation and semi-automation of the analysis, and the integration of timely and responsive environmental law enforcement system are seen as instrumental value additions to the current BMS, which will make data analysis more robust providing real time information that will allow for quick actions from concerned government functionaries.
Major components of the observations considered during the patrolling were wildlife, which includes flora, fauna and bird species; as well as the threats in MANP. In the lower portion of Mt. Buribid recording some 1,400 masl, we saw species of dominant trees like lawaan and tanggili where huge diameter averaging more or less 150 cm located in the early secondary growth forest. Since it was the first time we conducted foot patrolling, we will be back to do the same activity in identified old growth forest in Tibolo.
We followed a trail introduced to us by our guide Kagawad Arman Ladingan and we saw tracks of wild pigs and wild chicken as the prevailing fauna in the mountain. Other indirect observation we noticed was the remains of corn and banana plants left by civets and wild pigs.
Bird species are in abundance also in Mt. Buribid. After we left the basecamp in the morning of the second day, we hear assorted birds in the first area near sitio Basak. As a beginner in the bird watching, I found it hard to identify them one by one with their sounds although I determined some spotted dove in the lower portions and some sunbirds and fantails. As we go through the vastly forested portion, I saw flock of the popular Apo Myna and towards the southwest we saw one hornbill.
The sad part of the patrolling was the threats we saw. There were portions were locals have encroached the area for farming employing the slash and burn method. We also saw two big trees cut down in the middle of the forest. In some portions down north, there are numbers of buyo-buyo species occupying a large part of the vegetation. This plant is highly toxic and could harm other useful species.
As a mountaineering club who loves nature, we will always be happy to take part to whatever activities related to biodiversity monitoring. It has always been our priority to do that, even with a little remuneration or no financial gain whatsoever. We would just like to be known in our fight for environmental conservation, nothing else matters.