The second installment of the series of experiential visits conducted by the Mt. Apo Natural Park Protected Area Management Board had us visiting the Protected Landscape and Seascape of Mabini in Compostela Valley last July 27-28. This came as a pleasant surprise because the Mabini Protected Landscape and Seascape (MPLS) is a model PA that every locality should imitate. We were fortunate to have been led by a dynamic PENRO in Mr. Pablito Ofrecia, the new and tireless Mt. Apo Protected Area Superintendent (PASU) because he was the one capable of transforming MPLS into one of Mindanao’s well-managed PAs during his tenure in the town of Mabini in early year 2000.
MPLS is a 6,106 – hectare terrestrial and marine protected area established in 2000 basically to safeguard the diverse marine ecosystem in Davao Gulf particularly in the shores of Compostela Valley province. It was created by virtue of Proclamation No. 316 dated May 31, 2000 and Republic Act 7586 otherwise known as the Integrated Protected Area Systems Act of 1992. The park extends along the coast of the municipality of Mabini from the mouth of Pandasan River up to the southern tip of Kopiat Island.
The Mabini portion of Davao Gulf where the MPLS is situated serves as feeding ground of eleven species of marine mammals which includes dolphins, sperm whales, killer whales and diverse breeds of sea turtles.
Another interesting feature of MPLS is the mangrove reservations identified in the major portions of Mabini stretching to as far as Kopiat Island. The dominant variety of mangrove is the Rhizopora apiculata that houses several endemic birds.
On the second day of our visit we were exposed to the PA’s rich underwater environment. It was my second time diving using a Self-contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. During the dive we were informed that the coral reef of Mabini is one of the three in Region XI being classified as having excellent condition, the other two in Samal Island and Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.
In an effort to create sustainable management of MPLS, the MPLS-PAMB has considered ecotourism a vital tool, paving local community to operate minimal impact tourism activities while also promoting measures to maintain the unspoiled mangrove forest of the area.
With its attributes featuring healthy fishing ground, mangrove reserves and coral formations; there is no doubt that the Mabini Protected Landscape and Seascape is one of the most unique Protected Areas in the country.