CAGAYAN - As part of its public service activities this year, the UPLB Museum of Natural History has taken up the request of Sta. Teresita town Mayor Lolita Garcia here in Cagayan for help in gathering baseline data on the town's cave and karst areas.

A composite assessment team spearheaded by the Museum travelled to Sta. Teresita, almost 20 hours by land, on 24-28 February to conduct ocular and collection surveys in three identified caves and the town's lake. The visit, coordinated through municipal environmental officer Nida Dela Cruz, was made part of the town's 5th National Ecotoursim Festival/2nd Namunit Festival.

Sta. Teresita is one of the 28 municipalities of Cagayan at the northern tip of Northern Luzon. LGU-Sta. Teresita has keen interest in developing its caves and lake as key ecotourism sites which are expected to generate additional income and livelihood for the people. However, the initiative presents some problems to the LGU as further development of the area may have tantamount repercussions to the biodiversity and wildlife present in the area.

Members of the team included MNH core staff James DV. Alvarez, Marian P. De Leon, Jeremy Carlo B. Naredo, Julius A. Parcon and Curators Prof. Ivy Amor F. Lambio and Prof. Phillip A. Alviola; Prof. Joan Pauline P. Talubo of the College of Human Ecology-Department of Community and Environmental Resource Planning; Jose Dominick S. Guballa of UP Diliman National Institute of Geological Sciences; and Prof. Adrian Raymund C. Fernandez of Partido State University Department of Geology. Museum extension specialist Florante Cruz served as technical assistance project coordinator.

The team was able to visit Bangalau Cave and Bangalau Lake in Brgy. Luga, Ari Zero Cave in Brgy Aridowen and Maquera Cave in Brgy. Mission with the assistance of ecotourism guides and barangay officials assigned by the LGU. Representatives from the local DENR and CENR offices were also present to observe and document the activities.

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