P.A. Talk Episode 3 highlights Ecotourism in Protected Areas

August 21, 2020

Three protected areas in the Philippines have enjoyed phenomenal success in ecotourism. They have transported Filipinos not just to parts of their own country but almost to a different world. Batanes, Apo Reef, and Apo Island have shown that visitors can coexist with protection of sensitive ecosystems. How are they faring during a pandemic? Are they taking a breather and in better shape or are people taking more liberties and acting against conservation due to income loss?

In the third episode of PA Talk: Protected Areas for a Protected Future, Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, together with DENR Assistant Secretary and Head of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Ricardo Calderon, will highlight the protected areas with best practices on ecotourism: Batanes Protected Landscape and Seascape, Apo Reef Natural Park, and Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seascape.

These protected areas will be the subject of an intense discussion on ecoutourism, biodiversity and management challenges that seeks to get more people to understand what protected area frontliners have to grapple with.

Joining Legarda in the webinar are the frontliners in the protection of our natural wealth: DENR’s regional executive directors and protected area superintendents (PASUs) as well as representatives from peoples’ organizations. Representatives from the Department of Tourism and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts will also join to discuss ecotourism in the new normal; and share insights on promoting heritage and ecotourism respectively.

Batanes Protected Landscape and Seascape is the ancestral home of the Ivatans, a people whose hardy but gentle culture reflects the awesome beauty of their landscape. The protected area covers the entire province and includes volcanic peaks, undulating grasslands, rocky outcrops, uplifted marine terraces as well as heritage sites of typhoon-ready stone houses, centuries-old churches and World War II ruins.

Apo Reef Natural Park in Occidental Mindoro is the second largest continuous reef in the world, next to the Great Barrier Reef. It has retained excellent coral cover and is a significant sanctuary and spawning area for reef fishes. As the climate changes, the resilience of Apo Reef will indicate whether it can be a source for recolonization of reefs elsewhere after bleaching.

Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seascape in Negros Oriental is a laboratory showcase of effective community-based marine resource management. It is visited by many local governments and students interested in areas of high marine biodiversity with high visitor rates. Shedd Museum of Chicago uses it as its central display for tropical marine biodiversity.

Balancing ecotourism and protection remains to be the main challenge in these special places. Benefits have to be equitable and sustained, and communities need to be continuously motivated to protect and conserve, even as their overall quality of life and well being should improve. These sites could also serve as classrooms for ecosystem and biodiversity, over and above their mere aesthetic and heritage values.

PA Talk is a monthly webinar hosted by Deputy Speaker Legarda, a partnership between DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau and the Office of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, with assistance from the Climate Change Commission.

Legarda is the principal author and co-sponsor of the E-NIPAS Law, which was enacted in 2018. Through this webinar, Legarda hopes to introduce the protected areas of the country to a wider audience, inviting them to visit and engaging them to help study, protect, and conserve them.

Everyone is invited to join the third episode on August 25, 2020 (Tuesday) at 10:00 AM, via livestreaming on FB/CongresswomanLorenLegarda and FB/DENRBiodiversity.