Earth-friendly tourism come-ons to be pushed

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Imagine a bird-watching expedition to Mt. Hamiguitan in Davao Oriental. The highlight of the trip: a rare opportunity to see the Philippine eagle in the wild.

Chances are that tourists will pay good money for such an opportunity, and environmental and tourism officials believe the idea may clear the way for educating the public about the need to protect the habitats of the country’s amazing plants and wildlife.

The Philippine eagle-watching tour, among other ecological tourism ventures, is one of the possible applications of a collaboration between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Tourism (DOT), an official said on Friday.

The two agencies have agreed to become partners in promoting “ecotourism” projects that emphasize the richness of Philippine flora and fauna and at the same time create livelihood opportunities for agricultural communities in eight biodiversity sites across the country.

Officials signed on Friday an agreement formalizing the cooperation between the two agencies as part of a $17 million project financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The project, “Partnerships for Biodiversity Conservation: Mainstreaming in Local Agricultural Landscapes,” covers the provinces of Cagayan, Quirino, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Antique, Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, Negros Occidental, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte and Davao Oriental.

Earth-friendly tours

The DENR and the DOT will draw up plans for earth-friendly “tourism products” that will be sold on the international and domestic tourist markets, according to Director Mundita Lim of the DENR’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.

“For example, the ecotourism venture could center on diving and snorkeling in [dive] spots that have rich biodiversity but where there has been overfishing,” she said.

“Instead of deriving income only from fishing, the community can earn their living from tourism,” she added.

But protecting the environment must take precedence over earning tourism revenue, Lim said.

“That is what [you mean by] sustainable,” she said.

Lim cited instances when ecotourism activity could disturb or even harm endangered species, such as promoting a wildlife tour to Donsol in Sorsogon province by posting on the Internet a photo of a girl vacationer standing atop a whale shark.

“We’re hoping that the DENR can guide the business plans in such a way that the environment will be protected. We are like-minded with the DOT in that respect,” she said.

Another example of an ecotourism venture is a guided bird-watching tour of Mt. Hamiguitan, one of the few places inhabited by the critically endangered Philippine eagle, the country’s national bird.

“Perhaps tourists can be accompanied on bird-watching tours of the forest and one of the stops will be a nesting ground of the Philippine eagle,” Lim said.

Of course, she added, “extra care must be done to ensure that the bird is not disturbed in any way.” This is where the DENR can come in to train people to become guides, she said.

Lim said catching a glimpse of the elusive Philippine eagle, one of the largest avian predators known to prey on monkeys and small mammals, could prove lucrative and draw plenty of interest among tourists.

“It’s a totally different experience to see a Philippine eagle in a cage as opposed to seeing it in the wild,” Lim said.

Collaboration

Under the agreement, the DENR and the DOT will collaborate in the development and implementation of “biodiversity-friendly and sustainable tourism activities” in the identified demonstration sites.

At the same time, they will endeavor to promote the social and economic growth of the host and surrounding communities, enhancing the contribution of tourism to the national goal of inclusive growth.

The two departments will formulate a “Sustainable Tourism-Biodiversity Conservation Framework and Implementation Plan,” which will serve as guide for undertaking biodiversity-friendly, sustainable tourism businesses and activities.

The DENR is tasked with guiding, supervising and overseeing the activities, resolving operational issues, providing technical support and training local government officials and officers in the correct approaches and methods for the identification, assessment, planning, development, promotion and marketing of the ecotourism ventures.

The DOT, in turn, will provide technical assistance, mobilize staff for the development of the business plans, incorporate ecotourism and other biodiversity-friendly projects in the Local Tourism Guidebook and conduct studies to assess the feasibility of proposed ecotourism ventures.

‘Mega-diverse’

The Philippines, according to the DENR, is regarded as one of the world’s 17 “mega-diverse” countries, and is home to the highest rates of species discovery on a global scale and the biggest number of endemic species in the Indo-Malayan region per unit area.

Endemic species refers to plants and animals found only in a particular place and nowhere else in the world.

Among the species endemic to the Philippines are the Philippine eagle, the tamaraw of Mindoro island and the Philippine mouse deer of Palawan.

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  • AlexanderAmproz

    I have sadly observed, 

    when a rare miraculously untouched place is discovered, after only two Years it’s totally destroyed by greed, ignorances and a local official rabid imbecility efficiency.

    Examples easy to check are the Loboc and Abatan Rivers in Bohol,
    fantastic places 35 Years ago, after to have been “Discovered”,
    they are even not a shadow of what they were,
    only left a mirror of how stupid are the local authorities.
    In the Chocolate Hills, two of them erased for quarry.

    One day Bohol sand was “discovered”,
    it become at once a brand name for landscaping gardens in Manila,
    almost none left. Today in Bohol, the beach sand is imported from Leyte.
    In case a new dive spot is “discovered”, it will become at once a dynamite fishing spot.

    It’s the very same with Historical buildings, graft and grab irresistible attraction,
    Clergy and Priests doing the same with Children’s or Churches icons and other valuables.

    Philippines is really the sick man of the world, 
    its what environmentalist will provoke and “discover”, as I did !

    The Philippine WAS one of the nicest World country and best biodiversity !

    An enormous unfathomable Education and Probity Gap

    • buttones

      When I read this sort of thing I get really annoyed- firstly by this sort of sesquipedalian language- secondly by the funding and what will happen to that, thirdly by the complete absence of any sort of proper research that might lead to an investment by anybody, or a conclusion that people will actually come miles to see these endangered species that we, as a society have taken great pains in actually destroying. They said ‘Chances are’ if I had $17 m dollars to spend I would want a bit more than that reassurance.The Philippine eagle basically resides in Mindanao- not the best tourist destination at the moment, and there they might have maybe 200 breeding pairs at best, so seeing one of those is remote. Not only that, I really don’t think the average tourist is that interested in climbing mountains and looking for birds- ornithologists maybe.The tamaraw of Mindoro island is a rare thing to see in the wild, is an endangered species, the Philippine mouse deer of Palawan suffers the same fate, the people who like to eat these poor creatures cannot even find them.“For example, the ecotourism venture could center on diving and snorkeling in [dive] spots that have rich biodiversity but where there has been overfishing, [sic]” she said. Why would I go to a dive site that has no fish?I remember Boracay so many years ago, it was in fact listed as the number one beach in the entire world, now it’s number seven, and they tell me a complete mess.Yes we will destroy these places looking for a few pennies in our purse, the next one is Palawan….This whole venture is doomed to failure…. 

      • AlexanderAmproz

        May I ad, 

        about Abatan River is heavily Cadmium and Mercury Polluted by a “friend” of the “elites” loved former Governor Aumentado, actually grilling in the Hell,
        but younger generations will suffer live time his compromising tolerances.

        About the rare still untouched places, for environment protection, one rule only,
        live them in peace. Nothing is more destructive than tourism industry and humans presences. An access ban is the only way. In case some wast track of land left they should be turned into “National Park” with strict access rule,
        among them the most important, its to forbid to live the existing path way.
        The Everglades Park in Florida or the Swiss National Park in the Alps, by example, the easier will be to adopt the same rules and taxes, as they are highly experimented with a long time environment protection experiments.
        I am convince those two countries will enjoy to take care and training some environment involved students.

        The best way to extinct the “Philippines Eagle” is to track him with tourists hordes !

        PS: Last time I went to Borocay in 94, stayed over night and run away for many reasons, useless to be explained to primitive stubborned and uneducated.
        Even in the late eighties I went to visit the Tourism Secretary taking her attention to Banawe rice terraces and Bohol Island in a whole, with a special attention for the Historical Heritage. Her answer was : in the country, Borocay, Panglao and Vigan are under protection, its enough !  Since then, what has some International interests vanished into thin air…., Probably on purpose,
        I had many opportunity to see Philippines Officials inhabited by a destructive rage to put the country in limbo. Usually it’s an Invaders attitude, raping and destroying the invaded place to submit it. 

        It’s a war against the Country and Peoples 

    • buttones

      Forgot to mention Bohol- I own some property in Bohol- in Loon, and visiting some years ago to pay my taxes I though it might be nice to take my guy and show him one of the wonders of our islands, The next week when I had gone back abroad I read that one of the hills had ’disappeared’! I mean can these hills just simply vanish without the local authorities, the DENR even noticing?
      The answer to that question is- YES!

      • AlexanderAmproz

        They didn’t notice it, they sold it !

        Panglao main income is scuba diving, dynamite fishing sponsor was the Major, its always like that all around the country. In case you are crazy enough complain about, you are a nuisance or an activist and get killed !

        I remember a Priest in Mindanao, he wanted to help the Bila’an’s to protect their Ancestor Domain Land Forests. 
        The AFP tag him as an NPA, “Wanted Dead or Alive,
        Rewards” 2000.-Pesos, life is cheap for Mindanao Chinese main legal logger,

        THE Makati Billionaire owner…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4R3GZTGML26TV2VGS6RVHP2THM Fred

    Sana walang NPA o terorista sa mga proposed eco-tourism places!

  • DGuardian

    Sana ay matuloy at magtagumpay ang proyektong ito. Dapat ding turuan ang mga Pilipino sa lahat ng antas ng lipunan sa tamang pangangalaga, pagmamalasakit at pagprotekta sa kalikasan at sa ating mga flora at fauna. Biniyayaan tayo ng Panginoong Diyos ng natatanging biodiversity, subali’t ang kawalang malasakit at kadalasan ay kagahamanan ng ating mga mamamayan ang nagpapaunti sa biodiversity na ito at ginagawanang extinct ang maraming species ng ating mga flora at fauna. Dapat ay gawing subject sa academic curriculum mula kindergarten hanggang universidad ang tungkol sa pagprotekta at  pangangalaga sa environment at sa mga likas na yaman ng ating .mga karagatan, kalupaan at himpapawid. Ang logging at mining din ay patuloy na sumisira sa ating kalikasan at pumapatay sa mga species ng ating flora at fauna. Sana ay itigil na ang pagpapahintulot sa mga foreign at local investors sa mining na 7% lang ng nae-extract na likas na yaman ng Puilipinas ang ibinabayad sa gobyerno. Hindi na kailan man maibabalik pa ang environment na sinira nila sa original na estado. Dapat ay ang gobyerno ang siyang magtayo ng ahensya na syang magmimina sa ginto, pilak, nickel, at iba pang mineral resources ng bansa para tuluy-tuloy na sa Central Bank ang ginto at hindi ini-smuggle patungong China na hindi man lamang nagbayad ng kakarampot na buwis. Bakit halos ipinamimigay ng gobyerno ang ating mga likas na yaman? Bakit nagmamadali ang pamahalaan na maubos ang mga ito ganoong napakarami pang mga siglo natin inaasahang mage-exist ang ating bansa at napakarami pang henerasyon ng mga Pilipino ang mangangailangan sa ating mga likas na yaman sa ibang panahon?

  • DGuardian

    Paano nangyari na, ayon kay Alexander Amproz, ang dalawa sa Chocolate Hills ay nai-quarry at nawala nang hindi man lamang nalaman ng DENR? Tiyak na may kaalaman dito ang Mayor at Barangay Chairman ng lugar na kinaroroonan dati ng nawalang hills. Ano bang klase ng bansa at anong klase ng tao ang mga Pilipino na ang mga parte ng isang heritage site ay i-ka-quarry para lamang kumita ng pera? At gaano na lamang ang kikitain sa pag-quarry na iyon ng dalawang napakaimportanteng likas na yaman ng Pilipinas?  Kahit anong halaga ay walang katumbas ang 2 chocolate hills na iyon na dahil sa kagahamanan ng mga tao sa lugar na iyon ng Bohol ay biglang naglaho. Ano rin ang ginagawa ng Department of Tourism?  Hindi ba ito ay tourist destination na ipino-promote ninyo sa ibang mga bansa? Bakit walang inventory ang DENR at DOT sa bilang na kabuuan ng mga Chocolate hills? Dapat ay paimbestigahan ito sa sangay ng NBI sa Bohol at ikulong nang habang-buhay ang mga may kagagawan nito. Kiug sa China nangyari ito ay tiyak na firing squad ang aabutin ng mga sakre at gahamang mga Pilipino na ito na wala ni anumang malasakit at pagmamahal sa kanilang bayan. Sana ay tignan at aksiyunan ito ni Presidente Aquino, maging ng mga Senador at mga Congressmen.

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