in coastal regions and in small islands
Coastal Resources Management Ulugan Bay, Palawan
Island, The Philippines
Volume I ecology, culture and socioe-conomics
S. Fazi and P. Flewwelling
Coastal zones contain many of the Earth’s most complex,
diverse and productive ecological systems; productive in both a biological and
economic sense. Reefs, mangroves, wetlands and tidelands are: (i) the nursery
and feeding areas for many marine species; (ii) important areas for the
recycling of the nutrients, and (iii) buffer areas for storm protection and to
Coastal ecotones are very complex systems that foster a
dynamic balance between the terrestrial and marine environments. Sustainable
development strategies for the management of these ecosystems should be
orientated towards a strong evaluation of the functional characteristics of the
system (i.e. carrying capacity) to preserve this delicate balance and to
maximize the benefits to the stakeholders. Basic knowledge of the ecological
characteristics of coastal ecotones should include the study of the ecological
processes, the analysis of flow of resources that coastal systems generate, as
well as the potential use of these resources for social and economic development
Due to the complexity of both human activities and coastal
ecosystems, an integrated management scheme is needed to both allocate coastal
resources effectively, and minimize environmental degradation. Choices and
compromises have to be made between competing users and uses of the coastal
zones if an escalation of conflicts and resource degradation are to be avoided.
The paramount objective of integrated management is to devise a framework for “sustainable utilization” of coastal resources. This exercise may be subdivided into three broad areas:
Policy to form the basic parameters for coastal management planning;
Planning for the allocation of resources;
Implementation of planned decisions, including restorative or remedial works (Carter, R.W.G., 1988. Coastal Environments. Academic Press, London).
FORMULATION OF MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
Local community involvement – A prerequisite for
integrated management is the acceptance of the management plan by the
government, and its support by all the stakeholders in coastal areas. Achieving
a balance between the top-down legislative authorities and the bottom-up
community involvement approach requires a delicate balance of issues and a
strong link to stakeholders in the area.
Baseline information – Availability of baseline
information is key to the planning exercise. Planning also requires an
understanding of the relationship among key parameters and factors in order to
properly identify and prioritize management issues. This baseline should provide
information on the coastal resource system, including biophysical, ecological,
socio-cultural, economic, as well as institutional, organizational and
implementation data. Also included in this component is the requirement for
solid sectoral indicators and models to make appropriate projections of the
area’s development trajectory.
Collection of data – Where data gaps exist, primary data
must be collected, updated and verified to ensure reliability of information
required for decision-making. Multi-disciplinary teams have to conduct relevant
applied scientific research in the biological, ecological, physical,
socio-economic aspects of the site, as well as determining the existing
institutional and organizational responsibility for resources management of the
Formulation of management strategies and policy opinions
– The output of the previous stages provides the basis on which management
policy options are formulated, alternative strategies are developed to address
specific management issues, and final plans are defined. The process involves
both top-down and bottom-up approaches for the formulation of policies,
strategies and actions needed to resolve the problems.
Implementation of approved, sustainable management plans
– After assistance in the planning exercise, the community should be assisted
in the implementation phase.
This often not the case, and attention is required for community confidence building, technical training for drafting legislative inputs to support the management plan, as well as the training for the joint community and government implementation of the plans. Joint planning and implementation through the stakeholders and legislated agencies fosters a joint stewardship of the coastal resources within the community and government services.
THE UNESCO/UNDP PILOT PROJECT – SUMMARY
The “Coastal Resources Management and Sustainable Tourism in Ulugan Bay” is
a project that is being implemented by the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The project is supported by the
United Nations Development Program (UNDP), involving the Local Government
Unit of Puerto Princesa City as an on-site executing agent.
The primary objective of this project is to generate a model for community-based coastal resource management using a multi-sectoral approach. This project is inter-disciplinary in nature, specifically comprised of:
The success of the project was therefore built around the
strengthening of the community’s involvement in the sustainable development of
Palawan Province, highlighting Ulugan Bay
Ulugan Bay is a shallow bay located on the central, western coast of Palawan Island Province, and the mouth of the Bay opens into the South China Sea at the northern end. The Bay is situated some 47 kilometers from the provincial capital city of Puerto Pricesa. The Bay, covering 7,200 hectares, is noted for its distinct coastal mangrove forest that is in turn associated with tidal flats, seaweed beds, small islands, and smaller bays. In Ulugan Bay there are about 790 hectares of mangroves, 1.200 hectares of coral reefs and seagrass beds, thus making it a very sensitive and vitally important resource for the province.
In general, the Bay is very deep. It has no less than 14
fathoms in the fairway. Oyster Bay affords anchorage in 10 to 14 fathoms of mud
bottom. The other inlets are apparently all shallow. Dotting Ulugan Bay are two
islands and three islets. The 140 ft high Camungyan Island, also called the
Three-Peaked Island, or popularly known as Tres Marias, lies northward of
Northwest Head, or what is also called Nagkikiyang Point. Rita Island, an
elongated island of about 25 hectares, is one-and-a-half miles in length north
to south, by about 200 yards in breadth. It has a detached rock at its northern
extremity, 45 feet in height, named Observatory Rock, from which rocky bottom,
with 5 and 7 fathoms, extends in a northerly direction. Tarakawayan Islet is a
tiny islet lying nearly half a mile offshore between Kayulo and Bahile Rivers at
the head of the Bay. Reef Islet, locally named Manyokos, lies on the eastern
portion of the Bay near Marabay Point. South of Tarakawayan Island is White Rock
Islet or Puting Bato.
The peninsula forming the western side of Ulugan Bay
comprises an undulating highland reaching to the Kasoglan Range, south of Oyster
Bay. The east coast of Ulugan Bay, on the other hand, is a low undulating
terrain that extends from the head of the Bay to Tapul Bay. Conical Hill, 1,190
feet high, lies on the eastern side of the low saddle, and a range extends
northward from it along the eastern shore of Ulugan Bay to Piedras Point (known
locally as Punta Diablo). The highest point on the Bay end, Bintuan Peak at
1,730 feet, lies near the shore of Dalrymple Point and is separated from the
northern peak Sangbauen, 1,816 feet high, by a wooded valley that lies at the
back of Watering Bay. The mountains are heavily forested. Over ten rivers empty
into the Bay.
Although these coastal ecosystems are presently threatened
with degradation due to a number of factors, the Bay is still one of the main
sources of livelihood for most of the residents of communities surrounding the
Bay. Ulugan Bay is considered one of the most significant coastal and marine
ecosystems of Palawan Province. Its unique natural environment and its
productivity have resulted in Ulugan Bay becoming the most significant source of
fish for the markets in Puerto Princesa City. Unsustainable fishing practices
and increased siltation of the Bay however, threatens the livelihoods and
survivability of the local fisherfolk as fish stocks have declined.
There are five barangays (villages) in Ulugan Bay: Bahile,
Macarascas, Buenavista, Tagabinet and Cabayugan. They cover approximately 42,124
hectares. The topography of the land surrounding the Bay outside of the river
mouths is hilly and mountainous, with several crests higher than 985 feet within
1¾ miles of the shore. Forest cover
is still extensive in the upland areas of the watersheds around the Bay, but
extensive clearing for agriculture and human settlement has occurred in most
lowland areas. As of 1998, Ulugan Bay was home to 5 999 people. A majority of
them are farmers and fishers. Rice, corn and root crops are the major farm
products. In fishing, about 35 out of the 63 species of fish are known to be of
commercial value, including the high-priced lapu-lapu and suno (groupers). The
area is also of significant importance for national security, due to its
strategic location on the South China Sea. Its cultural importance is due to the
presence of indigenous populations in the coastal and upland areas. In addition,
the northern part of Ulugan Bay is included in the Puerto Princesa Subterranean
River and National Park, which is one of the two Natural World Heritage Sites in
Palawan was declared as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO’s
Man and Biosphere Program (MAB) in 1991, one of only two in the
country. In 1992, the Philippine Legislature passed, and President
Corazon Aquino signed into law the Republic Act (RA) 7611 adopting
the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan. This created the Palawan
Council for Sustainable Development which oversees the Strategic Environmental
Plan implementation directly under the Office of the Philippine President.
Recognizing its biological and cultural richness and diversity, several
areas in Palawan were already declared, prior to the adoption of the
Strategic Environmental Plan, as reservations or sanctuaries.
The year 1992 also saw the enactment of the National Integrated Protected
Areas System Act (RA 7586), an Act that integrated all protected areas
in the country into one system under the
Department of Environment and National Resources. The challenge
to this system however, is the Local Government Code that devolves
coastal area management to the municipalities, hence close partnerships
and liaison is required between the Department of Environment and
National Resources and the Local Government Units to effectively manage
The above reasons were significant factors in the choice of Ulugan Bay as a study site for UNESCO to implement inter-sectoral activities for sustainable coastal zone management and development, under the Unit Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands (CSI).
In 1996, in line with efforts to develop an integrated
planning approach, UNESCO organized a Strategic Planning Workshop for the
Stakeholders of Ulugan Bay. This workshop served as the forum for discussing
problems and issues affecting Ulugan Bay management, identifying areas of
concern, and harmonizing Stakeholders’ efforts towards a common vision. The
workshop also identified goals, objectives and strategies for effective and
sustainable resource management in this area. As a significant outcome of the
workshop, an Interim Ulugan Bay Multi-Sectoral Management Committee was
established as a working group to coordinate and integrate all activities and
actions. This workshop was followed by a series of consultations with National,
Provincial and Local Authorities, Institutions, and dialogues with the local
communities and indigenous groups living around the Bay. A specific survey was
carried out to identify needs and potential alternative income generating
activities that would be appropriate for both for local and indigenous
In 1997 the Project commenced activities in two main directions On one hand,
UNESCO-CSI started a process that resulted in the development of a project document
for planning inter-sectoral activities to be implemented in the Bay. On the
other, UNESCO also concentrated on capacity building for local institutions.
A series of training sessions on ecological coastal zone assessment (UNESCO-CSI)
and on participatory rural appraisal method were organized (UNESCO-SHS). The
main aim of these training sessions was to upgrade the capability of local institutions
and organizations in data collection by direct involvement of local communities.
The field activities carried out during the training, plus the multi-disciplinary
campaigns for data collection provided the basis on which management options
were formulated and activities were identified for the Project.
In 1998, with the support of UNDP, in conjunction with The Government of the Philippines (NEDA), and in close collaboration with the Government of Puerto Princesa City, UNESCO started the implementation of the two-year project “Coastal Resources Management and Sustainable Tourism in Ulugan Bay” (UNDP-PHI/98/007). The main objective of this project was to develop a model for coastal resource management for Ulugan Bay using a community-based, multi-sectoral approach; said model to serve as a possible reference for other initiatives.
- Ecological assessment of coastal resources
- Study on traditional resources use and the culture of the indigenous communities in Ulugan Bay
- Study on the socio-economic profile of Ulugan Bay and analysis of alternative livelihood for poverty alleviation
- Study on the potential for Sustainable Tourism in Ulugan Bay and the economic benefit to the community
Activity 1 – Community-based experimental areas for sustainable fish farming in Ulugan Bay. In collaboration with the City Agriculturist’s Office of Puerto Princesa City experimental areas for sustainable fish farming were established. This activity focused mainly on the comparative growth of Siganid Sp. in fish-pens. The project utilized the natural habitat as a culture area through enclosure by nets (2 x 2 x 2 meters). A total of 30 fish-pens were established and stocked with varying fish densities (0, 5, 10, 15, 20 number of 5 centimeter fingerlings per cubic meter with three replicates for each density). The pens were constructed on mono-specific seagrass beds of Enhalus acoroides. In each pen the density of seagrass plants was made uniform at 100 plants for square meter. The fish then depended mainly on the natural food present in the area, mainly epiphytes on the seagrass. Crab (Scylla serrata) fattening areas were also established.
Aside from providing scientific information on ecological processes such as food webs dynamics and productivity the importance of this activity was to serve as a “window” to the local communities on how to utilize the marine resources in the area for supplemental income without creating any harmful or destructive effect. It further increased their awareness on how to protect, manage, utilize and conserve the resources in the Bay. It also was intended to redirect community efforts from fish catching to fish farming, or a combination of the two activities. Data gathered were intended to guide future considerations for fish farming for the local communities. These can also be a reference for further research studies.
Activity 2 - Establishment of a fisheries database. In collaboration with the City Agriculturist’s Office of Puerto Princesa City, and involving local fishermen from all the barangays in the Bay, a database was to be developed to account for the fish catches and effort expended. This system forms the base for the fisheries data system for the City and for two other international fisheries projects in the area so that unnecessary duplication and overlaps would be avoided. The intent was to develop only one fisheries data system for the City for fisheries management, consequently the system had to be compatible with the other systems as they were created.
Activity 3 - Master plan for community-based sustainable tourism. The Master Plan was the result of the collective work from a series of sustainable tourism activities (community consultation, stakeholder workshops and supporting fieldwork). In 1999, Green Globe organized a series of field visits to the Ulugan Bay area. The output of these visits was summarized in the report entitled “The Potential for Sustainable Tourism in Ulugan Bay”. The main function of this report was to provide the background required for the formulation of the Master Plan. In addition, information contained within this report assisted in the design and implementation of a subsequent stakeholders workshop; the “Workshop for Sustainable Tourism in Ulugan Bay” was held in Puerto Princesa City in June 1999. More data was obtained at the workshop as additional input for the formulation of the Master Plan. All the interested parties and agencies that had a stake in the Ulugan Bay area participated in the Workshop. In the same undertaking, individual meetings were also held with the Councils of the five barangays and two Ancestral Domains during which community representatives took a proactive role in proposing their own initiatives. This Master Plan adopted a ‘bottom-up’ approach for the development of the planning framework. This planning structure included an examination of the various initiatives proposed at the community-level (micro-scale), and an assessment of the implications of these initiatives in terms of required actions, costs and potential sustainability. These components were then integrated with Puerto Princesa City’s wider development and conservation plans (macro-scale). The implementation of the first phase of the master plan directly involved the local communities in the organization and management of tourism.
Activity 4 - Non-formal environmental education for youth and adults. In each of the five barangays of Ulugan Bay environmental education courses were organized for youth as well as training courses for adults in the fields of coastal zones management. A total of six different training modules were presented in each barangay from initial coastal ecosystem awareness to training on legislative rights of the community in development under the Local Government Code.
Interactions between social and ecological processes are
complex in a coastal environment context, and there was inadequate information
about how these interactions occur in the Ulugan Bay area. This project was
intended to create the necessary platform for development of policy and
management practices at the community level.
The analysis in this summary includes assessments of
coastal resources and small-scale alternative income generating activities
(sustainable tourism and fish farms). Both these initiatives require community
investigations and understanding of the trends in resource use and their
long-term status; an understanding that is a basic requirement for subsequent
action. This analysis permits a clear definition of how long-term, sustainable
economic activities could be carried out by local communities.
All the data collected and the lessons learned during the
implementation of the project were amalgamated into a model for community-based
coastal resources management. This empirical model, generated through a multi-sectoral
approach, constituted a practical example for sustainable development in coastal
areas, one that could be tested in other areas in the Philippines. Furthermore,
the information collected during the Project provided practical guidelines to
future managers and policy makers. To emphasize the data-policy linkage and
input into managerial decisions, a policy and managerial workshop was organized
at the end of the project. The main aim of the workshop was to foster open
communication of the model to policy makers, and facilitate final input from the
communities to emphasize “lessons learned”, and further, to enhance the
model for possible replication, where appropriate, in other coastal areas of the