Camp John Hay’s scenic eco-trail, one of the few known forest bathing sites in the Philippines, was closed indefinitely over some visitors’ “environmental irresponsibility” and “complete disregard of nature”.
An advisory by the John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC) on Jan. 9 reported that some trekkers “deliberately dump their trash and wrote graffiti on plant leaves along the CJH trails”.
Along the trail, the management collected empty water bottle, food wraps, cigarette butts, wet wipes, and diapers — flammable materials that could risk “massive forest fire”, it said.
JHMC said the indefinite closure would allow them to clean the trails and the affected indigenous plants and trees to recover. However, it noted that consideration for permanent closure is not yet off the table.
“After which, careful assessment and evaluation shall be conducted by the JHMC to ascertain whether or not the Camp John Hay trails are viable. Significant consideration shall be given on tourists/trekkers’ environmental responsibility otherwise it will be closed permanently,” it warned.
In a statement Thursday, the Department of Tourism blasts the vandalism incident as “irresponsible” and called on all travelers to practice responsible tourism and environmental stewardship.
“The DOT condemns yet another irresponsible incident in Baguio City, this time about the dumping of garbage and destruction of plants by trekkers in the vicinity of Camp John Hay,” it said.
“The DOT reminds tourists to practice responsible tourism and environmental stewardship, along with the compliance with the health and safety guidelines, to help revive the tourism industry amidst the pandemic,” it stressed.
Immediate reassessment and formulation of environmental guidelines at Camp John Hay are ongoing. Among the recommendations by the DOT are the deployment of staff to monitor visitors and trekkers and a briefing before entry along with the prohibition to bring food while on the trail.
The incident comes two months after Baguio’s Bamboo Ecopark was forced to temporarily close when some tourists defaced the site’s bamboo culms or poles by engraving their names and relieving themselves along the pathway.
Source: Philippines News agency