The biodiversity-rich Mount Inayawan Range Natural Park (MIRNP) in Nunugan, Lanao del Norte was officially launched as an ASEAN Heritage Park (AHP) in ceremonies held during the 64th Araw ng Lanao del Norte-Environment Day celebration last June 28.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources OIC Assistant Secretary for Field Operations-Western Mindanao Arleigh Adorable and DENR Region 10 Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado joined Lanao del Norte Governor Imelda “Angging” Quibranza-Dimaporo, Senator Bong Go, and other stakeholders in launching MIRNP as the 53rd AHP across the Southeast Asian region.

The event saw the unveiling of the official landmark marking MIRNP as the eleventh AHP in the Philippines and the fourth in Region 10.

Other AHPs in the country are Mt. Apo Natural Park in Cotabato, Mts. Iglit-Baco Natural Park in Mindoro, Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park in Bukidnon, Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park in Misamis Occidental, Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve in Laguna, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Palawan, Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental, Mts. Timpoong-Hibok-Hibok Natural Monument in Camiguin Island, Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Agusan del Sur, and Pasonanca Natural Park in Zamboanga City.

With the declaration, MIRNP is now a protected area of high conservation importance. The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), as the secretariat of the AHP Programme, shall provide the park’s protected area staff with capacity-building activities as well as logistical support for activities under the park’s management plan.

Adorable said the MIRNP is of biological importance to the residents of Nunungan as it functions as an industrial and domestic water source and irrigation for Kapatagan Valley, the rice granary of Lanao del Norte.

“Based on the recent Biodiversity Assessment and Monitoring conducted by DENR Region 10 and representatives of the local government unit of Nunungan, Lanao del Norte, MIRNP is an important refuge of a great number of diverse endemic fauna and flora species found in the old growth and mossy forest in the higher areas,” Adorable said.

MIRNP is the largest remaining virgin forest in Lanao del Norte, and is a critical watershed in the province. It covers three major lakes: Malaig, Pantar, and Sungod. It sustains the residents in the Municipality of Nunungan and those in the adjacent municipalities of Sapad, Kapatagan and Lala.

For the locals, the mountain is the center of their belief, their protector and the provider for their needs for many centuries.
The park’s flora is dominated by dipterocarp species while its fauna includes the endangered Philippine Eagle and Philippine Deer, and the rare Mindanao flying squirrel, Giant Scops Owl, White Collared Kingfisher, Philippine Warty Pig, and Mindanao hornbill. It is considered as a Key Biodiversity Area and also regarded as one of the 17 Important Bird Areas.

MIRNP was legislated as a national park on June 22, 2018 pursuant to Republic Act 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act. It covers an area of 4, 236 hectares and the 25 barangays of Nunungan.

The DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau supports the protection of MIRNP through technical assistance in its protected area development and management initiatives. These include support to demarcation, updating of MIRNP's Protected Area Management Plan, reviewing of reports and providing recommendations and guidance to resolutions issued by the Park's Protected Area Management Board.

MIRNP was declared as an AHP during the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Environment on October 31, 2022, following the signing of the AHP certificate by the Secretary General of the ASEAN H.E. Dato Lim Jock Hoi and the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment Chairperson H.E. Dr. Siti Nurbaya Bakar. ###