TACLOBAN CITY- The Mount Nacolod is emerging as the next major ecotourism destination here in the region, a report from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources regional office 8 (DENR-8)said. DENR-8 Regional Director Leonardo Sibbaluca said that Mount Nacolod, located in Southern Leyte, is rich in biodiversity and one of the 228 key biodiversity areas in the Philippines.

The area has very high potentials for ecotourism, he added. Sibbaluca said that Mount Nacolod with an area approximately 14,000 hectares was declared as a forest reserve on November 25, 1996 by Proclamation No. 121 covers the municipalities of Silago, Saint Bernard, Hinunangan, Libagon, and Sogod in Southern Leyte and Mahaplag and Abuyog in Leyte. The DENR-8 head said that Mount Nacolod hosts Buac Watershed Forest Reserve and Hinabian-Lawigan Watershed Reservation which are the two significant watersheds of Southern Leyte, he added.

Sibbaluca said that the biodiversity assessment revealed that various endemic species are present in the area.  The study which was conducted in 2011 covered both the flora (plants) and fauna (animals) in the area, he added. Sibbaluca claims that research disclosed that Mt. Nacolod is rich in flora wherein there were 65 families and 229 species of flora identified in the area. Also, there were 112 species of birds belonging to 42 families were recorded during the study period.

Sibbaluca said that the most interesting is the discovery of the two new species of frogs known to inhabit the montane and mossy forests of Mount Nacolod. The two new species of frogs which belong to the genus Platymantis, only found in Mount Nacolod, were nationally unveiled at the Marble Hall of the Museum of the Filipino People last April 17, 2012. (RESTITUTO A.CAYUBIT)