Mt. Matutum of South Cotabato, Philippines: Tentative for UNESCO Natural World Heritage List
Mt. Matutum of South Cotabato, Philippines is famous among mountaineers. It is one of the 29 mountain summits in the Philippines with prominence of 1,500 meters or greater. Mt. Matutum is #14 at 1,950 meters with an elevation of 2,286 meters (peaklist.org).
Mt. Matutum is also recognized among volcanologists. One publication classified that Mt. Matutum was once one of the active volcanoes in the Philippines and part of the "Pacific Ring of Fire". Now it is an inactive volcano.
Among those concerned about conservation, Mt. Matutum is suitable for the experimental release of the world renowned yet endangered Philippine National Bird. It is also a habitat to about 57 species of wildlife and 110 species of plants. (Wikipedia).
In the description of the site submitted to UNESCO, Mt. Matutum is also important to the coastal and watershed ecosystems of Sarangani Bay as it forms the headwaters and catchment area for several major drainages.
The Conical Form
Mt. Matutum is a spectacular natural backdrop of the the agricultural plains of Tupi and Polomolok, South Cotabato. It owes it's conical shape, although irregular, to its steep profile and the many layers of hardened lava brought about by periodic explosive eruptions. The last eruption was in 1911.
On World Heritage List (Tentative)
The status "Tentative" on the UNESCO World Heritage List is the first step of the nomination process. It is an indication that the Philippine Government included Mt. Matutum Protected Landscape in its inventory of important natural and cultural sites.
The submission was made in May 16, 2006 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) - Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB).
Mt. Matutum is submitted under the Natural Criteria ix and x in the Operational Guidelines 2005, as follows:
ix. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
x. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
Achieving Outstanding Universal Value
To be included in the World Heritage List, Mt. Matutum Protected Landscape must qualify to the criteria stated above and must be of Outstanding Universal Value.
A natural or cultural site to be considered with Outstanding Universal Value is to have exceptional significance that transcends national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity (Operational Guidelines 2005) .
A Call to Action
Within five to ten years upon submission of the Tentative List, the Philippine Government through DENR - PAWB will decide to proceed with the nomination for inscription.
Once nominated for inscription, the site goes through validation and evaluation of authenticity and integrity of its properties. Another important aspect of the evaluation is a well established protection and management of the site's conservation.
What happened since 2006 for Mt. Matutum Protected Landscape? The Tentative List was last revised in 2009. The status is still tentative. There are 28 other sites in the Philippines vying for recognition (The Tentative List).
It will be a pride to the Province of South Cotabato, Philippines to be recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. South Cotabateños, we are already a step closer to the dream. Let us not waste time to make it happen! Let us aim for the UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site recognition for Mt. Matutum Protected Landscape!