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The Mayon Volcano is situated in the southern part of the main island of Luzon, 500 kilometres south of Manila. Towering at a height of 2,462 meters above sea level, it is known for its perfectly conical shape whose natural beauty has inspired a number of legends and art. The most active volcano in the Philippines and one of the most active in the world, having erupted over 51 times in the past four centuries, the most destructive of which is in 1814 when five towns in its periphery were destroyed. Nevertheless, it has developed a culture of resiliency among the inhabitants of its vicinity, who always rebuilt their towns and cultivated their fields after each destructive eruption.
For its height, unrivalled shape and remarkably symmetrical contours, Mayon Volcano was believed by the pre-hispanic Bicolanos to be the abode of their ancestors and thus its confines were subjected to taboo, including violation of its natural resources and even climbing its peak. It was also held as the sacred mountain of both the deity Mayong and Gugurang, the supreme god of Bicolano animist beliefs.
As Mayon Volcano Natural Park (MVNP), the area covered by Mayon Volcano is a protected by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 413 signed into law on June, 2000. The park is home to 156 floral species belonging to 36 families and 83 species of trees that include the single dipterocarp found in the area (Hopea philippinensis) and one (1) near-threatened species from the rare family Nepentheceae, the pitcher plant Nepenthes ventricosa. The ethnobotanical plant biodiversity composed of 71 woody species belonging to 49 genera and 33 families has been recorded. Many are endemic (32%) while others are indigenous. It is also a habitat for 104 species of land vertebrates, including 57 species of birds, 10 species of amphibians, 24 species of reptiles, and 13 species of mammals. Of the 13 mammal species, 7 are endemic of which 3 are listed as vulnerable: the Philippine Brown Deer, Philippine Warty Pig, and Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox. The bird fauna includes 37 endemic species with 3 species listed in the IUCN red list: the nearly-threatened Luzon Bleeding Heart, vulnerable Philippine Eagle-Owl and critically-endangered Philippine Cockatoo. The 10 amphibian fauna are all endemic frog species with 4 listed in the IUCN red list: the nearly-threatened Luzon Fanged Frog, Luzon Forest Ground Frog and Guenther’s Forest Frog; and the vulnerable Banded Pigmy Tree Frog. The MVNP also houses 1 endemic butterfly, 7 endemic stick-insects and 9 endemic spiders in the registered insect and arachnid fauna.
Criterion (vii): Contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
Critrion (x): Contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
The Mayon Volcano Natural Park (MVNP) covers a total area of 5,775.70 hectares, straddling the six towns and three cities within the province of Albay, all within 10 to 19 kilometers of its crater and approximately two thirds of the province’s million people (1, 190,823 as of 2007 population census) dwells in the towns and cities around its base. Recognized for its diverse natural resources, it harbours four ecosystems, namely, grassland and bushland types, second growth forest, reforestation areas, and kaingin areas.
While protection of the core area is ensured by Presidential Proclamation No. 413, a buffer zone of 500-meter radius from its boundaries was also institutionalized in the Regional Development Council of 2012 whereby only activities compatible with conservation objectives are allowed to take place. Intactness of the MVNP is further regulated by Republic Act No. 7586 that declares the MVNP as part of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS). By virtue of such legislature, identified threats to the protected core area and buffer zone such as urbanization, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, eruption, occasional forest fire and unsustainable harvesting of species and forest area management (e.g., the slash-and-burn or “kaingin” agriculture) have been addressed and controlled. Thus protective measures at the local and national level are in place.