BIG NO to development of resorts in Calaguas islands – DENR

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LEGAZPI CITY -– The regional office for Bicol of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) based here is discouraging the development of resorts in Camarines Norte’s Calaguas Islands to preserve its serenity, natural beauty and exotic ecosystem.

Gilbert Gonzales, DENR regional executive director, on Thursday warned resort developers that they have no legal basis to occupy the legal easement of 20 meters identified for shoreline protection of this group of islands.

Salvage zones that have many public uses, including docking and bathing, are within the shoreline and although land owners in the area have preferential rights over the foreshore, they need to obtain foreshore lease agreement, Gonzales stressed.

To obtain such lease agreement, he said, supporting documents must be validated based on standard procedures while all permanent forests in the islands are not subject to occupation.

“We will be establishing a monitoring station in Calaguas in order to protect the island’s natural resources and prevent illegal occupation. We will not allow the construction of any permanent structure for tourism activities in the prohibited area,” he said.

DENR is also reviewing the islands’ cadastral and flooding maps to verify the bounds of alienable and disposable land leading to the amendment of respective titles granted to land owners, Gonzales said.

These moves, according to him, were hatched during the consultation dialogue initiated by the DENR regional team as the agency’s land evaluation unit found out through Global Positioning System (GPS) that a strip of the 20-meter forest reservation for shoreline protection has already been occupied by some resort developers.

The forum was in keeping with the celebration of the World Environment Day which underscored the importance of island ecosystems and their vulnerability to climate change.

The activity was participated in by representatives from local government units, barangay officials, local residents and other environmental protection and preservation stakeholders, as well as in local tourism industry leaders.

Calaguas is a group of landmass in the Pacific Ocean whose administrative jurisdiction belongs to Vinzons town.

The area offers an unforgettable beach time with unspoiled postcard-perfect beaches and rich coral gardens, promising dive sites and world-class surfing sites. (PNA)

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