Mount Pulag is crying for “Help!”
Mount Pulag, famous for her breathtaking rolling clouds that embrace viewers in awe and calmness never felt before, is now begging humans for time to heal herself.
This magnificent mountain in Benquet province of the Philippines is so amazing people had danced, pranced, pounded their chest, let out a wolf howl or kissed the ground in jubilation on reaching the summit 2,922 metres (9,587 ft) above sea level
Mount Pulag, however, is a case where higher tourism traffic begets lower environmental returns. Most visibly since 2016, this hallmark Philippine mountain has show signs of deteriorating ecosystem even with less than a thousand people perched on its top at sunrise many days a year.
Trees are disappearing, grassy and mossy wet lands are thinning, bamboos and plants are dying, animal and insect lives becoming scarce and Illegal mining operations have been uncovered.
Nature’s creations have a delicate ecosystem that needs proper management and protection, unlike man-made structures designed for people in the first place, which can withstand human tourism better.
The old ruins of Thailand’s old capital of Ayutthaya can take in over 3 million tourists a year ( a math average of 8,219 a day) without serious environmental implications.
There is ongoing talk on what to do with the situation. But as anything man-made the problem is complex.
The livelihood of the various tribes native to Mount Pulag and nearby provinces are at stake. So are the interest of tour operators, transport operators, eateries, shops, environmentalists, professional mountaineers, tourists, etc.
While discussions are being held interim measures are being put into effect. Prohibiting camping in select areas is now enforced and limiting the number of climbers on the summit at any given time is being implemented.
A tourist-home-stay with the people in the area is being encouraged to fan out economic benefits to the community.
Closing the mountain to tourists on weekends is being considered as another effective measure to help Mount Pulag heal herself.
A more radical approach being debated is whether to totally close Mount Pulag to tourism for a while so it can recover.
The radical measure might be popular among environmentalists, mountaineers and other parties but might not be with business operators and other parties, including the natives whose livelihood will be negatively affected.
While debates and discussions are going on, everyone should not cloud their thinking against the reality that, especially in the case Mount Pulag, combining nature’s abilities and human ingenuity to resolve the problem is very feasible.
[NOTE: This was converted from Post to Porfolio. Noahmin commented on that post as follows: “I support all responsible tourism initiatives that can help Mt Pulag and all Philippine natural attractions maintain their ecosystem. Every Filipino should realize that our main tourist attractions are natural wonders. If we mess it up, our economy will suffer, eventually of own people.” Comments are disallowed on Porfolio.