Bacolod: Province to develop ecotourism park in former rebel infested area

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Bacolod City – A 62-hectare property of the provincial government of Negros Occidental in Sitio Tambara, Brgy. San Fernando in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, which used to be a haven of rebels in the late 1980s, is being developed into an ecotourism park.

Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson and Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez led the groundbreaking rites of the Biodiversity Conservation and Nature Tourism Center, where the governor said he envisions to make it another tourist destination, similar to the Mambukal Resort.

It is also a nature tourism center where we can allow guests to sleep over, Lacson said.

He said that the provincial government will allocate P90 million annually, starting this year, to develop the area, including the concreting of roads.

Rep. Benitez also informed Gov. Lacson that he intends to file a bill in the House of Representatives to declare the tourism center as an ecotourism area, in order to avail of funds from the TIEZA (Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority), to improve the condition of the roads.

The solon said that the Department of Tourism has tourism road programs that may be utilized for the benefit of the tourism center.

Provincial Administrator Atty. Rayfrando Diaz, who gave the project overview of the Nature Tourism Center, disclosed that the project is an offshoot of the provincial government efforts in a water-secured Negros Occidental, including the Provincial Integrated Safe Water Program, which is one of the flagship programs of the administration of Gov. Lacson.

Focusing on the environmental aspect, this placed consideration on the various threats to the forest land and natural resources, which prompted the provincial government to establish the Biodiversity Conservation and Nature Tourism Center in the place, Diaz said.

The center, according to Diaz, also envisions to provide avenues that can host researchers and other interested and like-minded groups and individuals in their environmental advocacies.

Lacson said they will introduce bamboo in the area, which has multiple uses. Hopefully, it will be the priority material for our housing, the governor said, stressing also that the provincial government is committed to ensure its funding, and development.

Diaz said that the center will also feature structures utilizing bamboo architecture.

“Growing bamboo has been proven to help combat a number of challenges, including rural poverty, land degradation, deforestation, unsustainable resource use, and climate change, he stressed.

The provincial government of Negros Occidental partners with USAID Safe Water Project, local government units, academe, civil society organizations and other stakeholders.

Of the 62-hectare property, Diaz said an estimated 1.3 hectares is viable for further development. Recently, about 300 endemic native tree species were planted in the area.

Lacson said he expects the full development of the area within a six-year period.

Environmentalist priest Fr. Chris Gonzales led the prayer during the groundbreaking rites. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)

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