in coastal regions and in small islands
Coastal Resources Management Ulugan Bay, Palawan
Island, The Philippines
Volume II master plan for community based eco-tourism
Martin L. Felstead
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
This Community Based Eco-tourism Master Plan represents a single component
within a wider project whose ultimate objective is to generate an empirical
model for integrated coastal resource management. The project employs a
mulit-sectoral and inter-disciplinary approach with the aim of alleviating
poverty in Ulugan Bay through the development of sustainable livelihoods in
areas such as community based eco-tourism and sustainable coastal fish farming.
These activities are to be supported by environmental assessments and
education/capacity-building initiatives. The project is composed of three main
elements: Socio-economics; Traditional resource-use and culture; and Community
Based Sustainable Tourism.
The project is executed by the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and it
is administered under a Memorandum of Agreement between the Puerto Princesa
City Government and UNESCO. UNESCO/CSI Jakarta Office, the National Committee
on Marine Sciences and the Puerto Princesa City Government jointly manage it
with funding from the United Nations
Development Program (UNDP). The project became operational in January 1999.
Other agencies/non-government organizations (NGOs) closely involved include:
(NB Italics denote areas of primary input to the Community Based
Sustainable Tourism Project).
The scope of the project encompasses the coastal and marine environs of Ulugan
Bay on the central western coast of Palawan Province. It is intended that the
project will support UNESCO’s declaration of Palawan as a Biosphere Reserve
(1991); the Strategic Environment Plan of Palawan (1992); the National Integrated
Protected Areas System Act of the Philippines; the Environmentally Critical
Areas Network; and the declaration of nearby Puerto
Princesa Subterranean River and National Park, formally Saint Paul’s Subterranean
River National Park, as a World Heritage Site. A major strategy within the implementation
of the Strategic Environment Plan of Palawan (R.A.7611) is the establishment
of the Environmentally Critical Areas Network, a graded system of protection
encompassing Palawan’s marine, coastal and terrestrial areas. In support of
this framework, the activities identified for implementation within the Community
Based Sustainable Tourism Master Plan for Ulugan Bay will be located within
the appropriate Environmentally Critical Areas Network zones (e.g. controlled,
traditional and/or multiple-use zones). In addition, activities contained within
the Master Plan’s capital works program will pass through the ‘Clearance System’
operated by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development. For
example, appropriate documents (e.g. Initial Environmental Examinations, etc.)
will be submitted to the council prior to implementation.
Community Based Sustainable Tourism Master Plan is charged with formulating a
comprehensive framework for the implementation of Community Based Sustainable
Tourism development within Ulugan Bay, an area which is significant from both
conservation and development perspectives. In pursuit of this objective, the
document addresses conceptual, methodological and practical issues. It details
community proposals for Community Based Sustainable Tourism initiatives at the
local level providing a systematic set of guidelines for implementation.
Planning issues are explored at the Ulugan Bay level and strategic planning at
the Puerto Princesa City Municipal level. In the penultimate section, a
condensed action plan is provided summarizing recommendations for development
planning, implementation, management and monitoring. In each of the community
areas a number of Community Based Sustainable Tourism activities are prioritized
for implementation during Phase Ones of the Action Plan (short-term).
The Community Based Sustainable Tourism Master Plan for Ulugan Bay adopts an inter-disciplinary, multi-sectoral approach within which each element is treated in a systematic manner. The document is divided into eight major sections:
The Community Based
Sustainable Tourism Master Plan represents the collective output from a series
of sustainable tourism activities (community consultation, stakeholder workshops
and supporting fieldwork). This data led to the submission of a report entitled The
Potential for Sustainable Tourism in Ulugan Bay, Palawan, Philippines. Green
Globe, UNDP/UNESCO and the City Government of Puerto Princesa City (M. Sallows,
1999) which in turn provided the framework for the Community Based Sustainable
Tourism Master Plan. This document draws upon both primary and secondary data
from a variety of sources reflecting the multi-sectoral, inter-disciplinary
approach adopted by the wider Coastal Resource Management and Sustainable
In preparation for fieldwork and community-consultation exercises, secondary reconnaissance data was secured. This data-set included information relating to:
In March 1999, a series of
field visits to the Ulugan Bay area were organized with three main objectives:
The output of the field visit was the report entitled The Potential for Sustainable Tourism in Ulugan Bay. The main function of this report was to provide the contextual background required for the formulation of the Community Based Sustainable Tourism Master Plan. In addition, information contained within the potential report assisted in the design and implementation of a subsequent stakeholders’ workshop held later in the year.
This workshop, entitled
Community Workshop for Sustainable Tourism in Ulugan Bay was organized
by Green Globe
and was held in Puerto Princesa City in June 1999. The aim of this activity
was to generate further data in support of the formulation of the Community
Based Sustainable Tourism Master Plan. In order to achieve this, the workshop
brought together all the interested parties and agencies who have a stake in
the Ulugan Bay area and the
coastal resource management and Sustainable Tourism Project.
Those interested parties
Macarascas Barangay Council
Buena Vista Barangay Council
Tagabinet Barangay Council
Cabayugan Barangay Council
Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (Kayasan and Cabayugan) Tribal council
Princesa City Tourism Office
Puerto Princesa City Agriculturist Office
City Tribal foundation
Saint Paul’s Subterranean River National Park
Council for Sustainable Development
Philippine Department of Tourism
National Economic Development Agency
Department of Environment and Natural Resources/Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office
Western Command/Naval Forces West
Palawan Tropical Forestry Protection Program
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Ogranization/United
Nations Development Program
Environmental Legal Assistance Center
Palawan Conservation Corps
University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute/National Committee for Marine Sciences –UNESCO National Commission for the Philippines
International Marinelife Alliance
Palawan NGO Network Inc.
Ulugan Bay Foundation inc.
Palawan Eco-volunteer Program
The workshop divided these
representatives into four main groups, containing an even distribution of the
stakeholders, each group being facilitated by one assistant.
In the interests of easing
understanding and expression amongst the various participants, the majority of
the workshop was conducted either in Tagalong or in English with Tagalong.
The workshop commenced
with two presentations:
Over a two-day period, a
series of exercises were conducted during which collective responses to a series
of questions relating to a broad range of issues were elicited from the four
groups of participants. These exercises were primarily aimed at evaluating
sustainable tourism and Ulugan Bay’s relative strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities and threats with reference to:
An additional major output from the workshop was the result of an activity entitled destination visioning. This exercise generated four group vision statements for Community Based Sustainable Tourism in Ulugan Bay, which were then merged to form a single statement. This activity encouraged workshop participants to frame their thoughts regarding Community Based Sustainable Tourism development in Ulugan Bay (e.g. hopes, fears, aspirations and needs).
In support of the production of the Community Based Sustainable Tourism Master Plan further field visits to Ulugan Bay were carried out. The primary aims of these visits were to:
In pursuit of these objectives, individual meetings were held with the Councils of the five barangays and two certificate of ancestral domain claims during which community representatives took a pro-active role in proposing their own Community Based Sustainable Tourism initiatives. A number of potential tourism sites were also visited and the logistics of developing them considered at the local level.
In order to further integrate the Community Based Sustainable Tourism Master Plan with the rest of the broader project’s activities and other conservation and development initiatives within or adjacent to the Ulugan Bay area, secondary data was acquired from a variety of sources (i.e. Puerto Princesa City’s plans for long-term strategic development planning in the Ulugan Bay area and the management and master plans for neighboring Sabang and Saint Paul’s Subterranean River National Park, City Planning Office 1999).
Initially, the Community Based Sustainable Tourism Master Plan was submitted
in a draft format to both the primary and secondary stakeholders,
government agencies and other project personnel for comment. This represented a
final opportunity for stakeholder consultation, participation and input. On
receipt of these comments, a final draft was compiled incorporating these
results. This second version was then re-submitted to the Puerto Princesa City
Government and local authorities (i.e. the barangays and two certificate
of ancestral domain claims) for endorsement. The final Master Plan was also
presented to other agencies for endorsement (e.g. Palawan council for
Sustainable Development). Once endorsed, then the implementation of Phase One
(short-term) of the Action Plan commenced. This development stage includes both hard
and soft initiatives (e.g. training and capital works respectively)
prioritized for implementation in each community area. These activities are
supported by a rolling-program of community consultation and
participation which functions as a monitoring mechanism, generating the
necessary feed-back data essential to successful implementation.
This selection of Community Based Sustainable Tourism activities for Phase One implementation was based on the following criteria:
In keeping with the project’s community based emphasis, this Master Plan adopts a bottom-up approach, in constructing the planning framework. This planning structure comprises an examination of the various Community Based Sustainable Tourism initiatives proposed at the community-level (micro-scale) and the implications of these in terms of required actions (Section Four). In section Five, this thematic approach is applied to Ulugan Bay as a whole (meso-scale), while Section Six, explores how these components integrate with Puerto Princesa City’s wider development and conservation plans (macro-scale). In Section Seven, a summary of the proposals and recommended actions (at all scales) is provided in a tabulated format so that the information is more readily accessible to other stakeholders and decision-makers. Consequently, a multi-layered planning framework is generated with its basis firmly rooted in the communities of Ulugan Bay. This document considers this approach to be fundamental in meeting the objective of active community participation.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Complexity, overlap and linkage characterize the issues of community development, sustainability and conservation. This is a reflection of the large number of the various biophysical and socio-cultural components involved and the high degree of connectivity, which exists between them. The aim of this section is to clarify fundamental issues at the outset, providing a conceptual framework against which the practical issues addressed within the document may be viewed. Collectively, this imparts a sense of direction to the plan, essential in long-term implementation.
The Master Plan contains three main elements:
Community based development
In the context of this document, the term community refers primarily to the inhabitants of the five barangays and two certificate of ancestral domain claims of Ulugan Bay (primary stakeholders). However, the project also includes secondary stakeholders such as municipal and provincial government agencies, the military (Western Command/Naval Forces West) and NGOs active in the area, which collectively form an administrative/institutional community. When viewed in this context, the wider communities of Ulugan Bay appear heterogeneous, composed of disparate groups with differing perspectives, responsibilities and agendas. Consequently, although this Master Plan is charged with balancing the interests of all the stakeholders in the area, it will necessarily focus primarily on the needs of the resident communities( i.e. the people of the five barangays and two certificate of ancestral domain claims). In addition, the community based element requires this Master Plan to adopt a bottom-up approach wherein the communities become empowered through and throughout the Community Based Sustainable Tourism development process. This form of development is therefore rooted in the communities as opposed to being merely orientated in their direction. In consequence, this Master Plan should be viewed as being primarily a community document.
It is an unfortunate reality that tourism development is often characterized by inequity of access to resources. In numerous cases local communities become increasingly marginalized within the development process and subsequently displaced. This process can lead to increased poverty amongst local people resulting in accelerated environmental degradation, social disruption and cultural dilution. Community based development within the scope of this project is therefore aimed at building both community capability and capacity, not only in an economic context but also with reference to equity of access to resources. Consequently, this involves not only developing and expanding the skill-base of local communities, but also nurturing and sustaining equitable relationships between the various stakeholders (i.e. relative empowerment).
If community based development is to be successfully implemented within the
Ulugan Bay area then the interests of all the different stakeholders who are
involved need to be equally addressed. In this context the term stakeholder
refers not only to local communities, government bodies/agencies, private sector
enterprises and NGOs active within the area, but also to the biophysical
component (i.e. both marine and terrestrial flora and fauna). The primary aim of
this project therefore is to nurture a form of development, which is capable of
balancing the needs of the local communities and government/non-government
organizations and the conservation of the biophysical and cultural environments.
This strategy is aimed at addressing the relationship between poverty and
environmental/socio-cultural degradation, often referred to as conservation
on an empty stomach (UNCED, 1987. Our Common Future (the Brundtland Report),
Oxford, Oxford University Press; UNCED, 1992. Nations of the Earth Report,
United Nations Conference for Environment and Development, Geneva, 1992, Vol. 2;
UNCED, 1992. Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro, 1992).
In this Master Plan, the aim is to employ community based development as a
form of capacity building aimed at generating supplementary livelihood
activities at the local level. In this context the phrase livelihood
activity refers to economic initiatives, which primarily serve and sustain the
lives of local people as opposed to serving the economic interests of commercial
companies, shareholders and investors. The aim therefore is to achieve the
socio-economic, socio-ecological and socio-cultural development of Ulugan Bay
through sustainable management practices that focus on the needs of both the
local communities and the environment. The ultimate goal therefore is to balance
development with conservation in the belief that relieving poverty enables
conservation and conservation can be employed in relieving poverty.
Community based development therefore seeks to empower local people throughout the development process. In order to achieve this, it involves local communities through consultative and participatory mechanisms. In the context of the sustainable tourist component of the wider Ulugan Bay Coastal Resource Management Project these criteria have bee met through the use of field visits and repeated community consultation and workshops during which representatives have been encouraged to take a pro-active role. These strategies have been under-pinned by educational workshops carried out by the Environmental Legal Assistance Center as part of the wider Coastal Resource Management Project. This is designed to empower local people through quality education and training.
consultation and participation are not regarded in this planning document as
temporary activities which are completed at some stage during community
based development. On the contrary, this Master Plan regards continual community
consultation and participation as an essential component of community based
development. This is aimed at nurturing and sustaining community awareness,
self-help and co-management, fostering a spirit of collective responsibility and
equity in relations whilst simultaneously functioning as an effective monitoring
The World Conservation Strategy (IUCN, 1980. Living Resource Conservation for Sustainable Development, Gland, Switzerland, IUCN) and the Brundtland Report, entitled Our Common Future (UNCED, 1987. Oxford, Oxford University Press) both identified the issue of sustainability as the necessary center-point for future global development and conservation strategies. This effectively placed the subject on the world stage, reflecting growing international concern regarding the state of the global environment and giving it a high priority in subsequent environmental agendas. The Brundtland Commission described sustainable development as:
“development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (UNCED, 1987. Our Common Future (the Brundtland Report), Oxford, Oxford University Press).
The key components in this interpretation are needs and future
generations. It seems clear that the Brundtland Commission did not intend to
recommend that peoples presently existing on a subsistence level should remain
so in perpetuity, in the name of sustainability, a view with which this document
concurs. The term needs therefore, must also be considered in the context
of the aspirations and expectations communities may have of the development
process and how these may be met sustainably. Sustainable development strategies
therefore, seek to effect some improvement in the quality of human life,
as measured by the provision of key indicators such as health, housing, income,
employment and education (i.e. access to resources) without exceeding the
carrying capacities of the supporting resource-base. This places resource
management at the center of sustainable development, in which resource usage is
conducted in a manner which does not degrade the resource-base nor diminish the
range of development options open to future generations. These issues of
resource management, quality of life and inter-generational equity are therefore
fundamental when considering sustainable development.
The premise that
sustainable development only allows a society to live within the limits of its
environment does not necessarily mean that such a development strategy is unable
to produce growth. Where local communities are living at or close to subsistence
levels, it is possible that during the early stages of sustainable development,
the ability to create new resources, enhance existing resources and rehabilitate
previously degraded resources may lead to an initial period of growth. However,
once the carrying capacity of the environment is reached, furhter growth may
only take place as new, alternative ways of sustainably developing the
resource-base are found (Coomer, J., 1979. The Nature of the Quest for a
Sustainable Society, in J. coomer (ed.), Quest for a Sustainable Society.
Oxford, Pergamon Press.
associated with achieving sustainability are highlighted by Tony Macelli when he
activities, perforce, involve some degree of modification to the environment in
order to increase the provision of those goods and services which are valued by
humans” (Macelli, T., 1990. Sustainable Development and Environmental
Management: The Case of the Small Mediterranean Island of Gozo, in W. Beller, P.
d’Ayala and P. Hein (eds.) Sustainable Development and Environmental
Management of Small Islands. Man and the Biosphere Series. Vol. 5. Parthenon
Publishing Group, 1990.
Consequently, in fragile
environments such as Ulugan Bay, sensitive environmental management must be a
precursor to, and part of, sustainable development. This suggests that, if
economic development is to be managed sustainably, then it is necessary to
identify and pre-empt problems and ensure that the economy develops in a way
that is compatible with both the needs of local people and the wider
environment. In other words, our biophysical, economic and social system need to
live off the resource dividend without degrading the resource capital
(Asian Development Bank, 1990. Economic Policies for Sustainable Development).
The positioning of
eco-tourism as an alternative to the intensive mass-tourism market creates
expectations both inside and outside the industry regarding its mode of
operations. If these expectations are to be met, then the eco-tourism sector has
to sustainably manage its resource supply and demand relationships. This link
between eco-tourism and sustainabilty is essentially what sets eco-tourism apart
fro its more mainstream counterparts and yet at the same time it also creates a
dilemma for this market sector.
development, eco-tourism has become a much misused and misunderstood concept
that has proven notoriously difficult to define, let alone implement. As the
eco-tourism market has matured it has also become subject to a wide variety of
The Eco-tourism Society
and The Pacific Asia Travel Association link eco-tourism with the natural
history of the area, including indigenous cultures (Eco-tourism Society, 1992.
Definition and Eco-tourism Statistical Fact Sheet, Alexandria, VA.). They also
propose that this form of tourism should make economic benefits available to
local communities as they should also benefit from the conservation of natural
and socio-cultural resources. The Pacific Asia Travel Association goes on to
suggest that eco-tourists: visit relatively undeveloped areas in the spirit
of appreciation, participation and sensitivity (Nelles, E.F., 1996. Primer
on Eco-tourism, The Office of Product Research and Development Planning, Product
Development and Co-ordination Sector, Department of Tourism. Philippine
Department of Tourism circular). The inference therefore is that eco-tourism
does not degrade the biophysical environment, nor dilute or destroy the
traditional socio-cultural framework of local communities. In addition, it is
intended to concentrate the economic benefits derived from tourism within a
local populace who participate through and throughout the conservation and
development process. These elements are highlighted in a joint Department of
Environmental and Natural Resources-Department of Tourism memorandum circular
entitled ‘Guide Laws for Eco-tourism Development in the Philippines’ (signed
in June 1998) which interprets ‘eco-tourism’ as: a low-impact,
environmentally-sound and community-participatory tourism activity in a given
natural environment that enhances the conservation of biophysical understanding
and education and yields socio-economic benefits to the concerned community
(Libosada, Jr., Carlos, T., 1998. Ecotourism in the Philippines. bookmark Inc.
In summary eco-tourism
must strive to balance the interests of all the stakeholders, taking into
account the biophysical and human environments. In this context, the term eco
refers to the wider interpretation of ecology in that it includes both the
biophysical and socio-cultural environmental components. In order to avoid
compounding existing confusion regarding the diversity of interpretations given
to the concept of eco-tourism, this Community Based Eco-tourism Master Plan will
adhere to the principles adopted by the Pacific Asia Travel Association, the
Philippine Department of Tourism and the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources. This form of tourism is essentially Community Based
Sustainable Tourism within
which the interests of all stakeholders are represented equitably. Consequently,
this Master Plan will seek to generate a form of tourism development that is:
(rooted) in the communities of Ulugan Bay.
on sustainable resource management principles.
viable within the wider tourism market.
to local communities.
of integrating the needs of development with those of conservation.
By bringing together three
main elements (communities, sustainability and eco-tourism), the Community Based
Sustainable Tourism component of the wider Coastal Resources Management Project
aims to address a fundamental issue which is important, not only at local,
provincial and national levels, but also at the global scale (i.e. how to
integrate development with conservation).