Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands

An ecological assessment of Ulugan Bay, Palawan, Philippines, CSI info 12


Balancing conflicting priorities, such as those deemed essential for improving individual and collective livelihoods by local communities and those perceived as being in the national interest by governments, is always difficult, and never more so than in a beautiful and relatively pristine island, such as Palawan in the Philippines archipelago, often deemed the ‘last frontier of the Philippines’.

It is these very conflicts, together with a host of others, which are addressed in an ongoing field project: ‘Coastal resources management and ecotourism: an intersectoral approach to localizing sustainable development, Ulugan Bay, Palawan, the Philippines’. This project, which commenced in 1996, is one of the 23 intersectoral and interdisciplinary field projects initiated by UNESCO’s platform for ‘Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands’ (CSI).

Approach and methodology


With the added support of the UNESCO Chair in Integrated Coastal Management for Sustainable Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands at the University of the Philippines, and the Internet-based discussion forum on ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development’ (user name = csi, password = wise), this project involves the communities and other stakeholders in the development of sustainable livelihoods for the 6,000 inhabitants of Ulugan Bay. One of the major activities focuses on the development of ecotourism, as a sustainable and locally controlled activity.

This report documents one of the preliminary project activities, an ecological assessment of the bay, conducted in 1997–1998. While the results are important, perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the assessment is that it was conducted by persons representing the communities, government and non-governmental organizations active in this part of Palawan. Not only were these persons trained in the collection of scientific data, but also in applying the information to the management of Ulugan Bay. By adopting approaches such as this one, through all the project activities, it is anticipated that the resources of Ulugan Bay can be utilized by existing generations and those still to come.

Dirk G. Troost
Chief, CSI

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