The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is pushing for ecotourism in coastal areas as a potential “win-win strategy” for sustainable development of the country’s rich marine resources, and the millions of people who rely on them for food and livelihood.
In a statement, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said that the concept of ecotourism takes advantage of the abundant natural and human resources the Philippines is endowed with.
Paje said that coastal ecotourism is the most sustainable approach to management of marine resources since it is “nature-based and nonextractive.”
“It brings together many key players in advocating for a type of tourism that protects marine biodiversity, thereby sustaining the protein requirement of Filipinos supplied by the seas, and providing sustainable livelihood to a marginalized sector of the population,” he said.
The DENR chief cited the government’s Integrated Coastal Resources Management Program [ICRMP], which promotes sustainable management of coastal resources using a “ridge-to-reef” or upland to lowland approach, and creates income and livelihood opportunities to fisher folk.
Paje also disclosed that he recently issued DENR Administrative Order 2013-19, which sets the guidelines on ecotourism planning and management within protected areas that include coastal, marine and wetland regions.
He said that with education and conservation awareness as one of the principles of ecotourism, the local community and other stakeholders are educated on the ecological and economic benefits of the natural resources peculiar to their area.
“This encourages them to sustain these resources, which are the prime draw for tourists, instead of extracting them until depletion,” Paje said.
“Sustainable ecotourism, while heightening tourists’ awareness on the richness of our biodiversity and the need to conserve them, improves the quality of life in our coastal communities, empowers them and makes them more resilient in facing and adapting to the adverse impacts of climate change,” he added.
James Konstantin Galvez