Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands

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

Executive summary

This document describes the approach, methodology, results and application of an ecological resource assessment at Ulugan Bay, Palawan, the Philippines. This assessment was conducted as one of the activities of a field project which is part of a global initiative of UNESCO’s ‘Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands’ platform.

Ulugan Bay was selected because of its unique combination of environmental, social and locational aspects as well as its future potential role as a major site for ecotourism. Home to 15% of the mangrove forests of the Philippines, and an important site for coral reefs and seagrass beds, the area has extensive natural, biological and economic value. Furthermore, its location adjacent to the famous Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and World Heritage Site, and its additional function as an important natural harbour for the Armed Forces, make it a place of great significance to a wide range of interests.

The resource assessment was preceded by consultations with officials from the five communities (barangays) surrounding the bay, so as to formalize the role of the local community in the process. Persons involved in the assessment came from a broad range of institutions and organizations including the local government, provincial institutions, the national park, the Navy, and other non-governmental organizations. The assessment had two main objectives, to provide input to a fisheries and biodiversity database and to train participants in data collection and the application of the scientific information to resource management and planning. A training course was held for the participants prior to the data collection. After the data collection, analysis and application, there was a post-assessment briefing and evaluation of the entire exercise.

During 1997–1998, data were collected on coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, fish, seaweeds and water quality. These data are presented and discussed in this report. Key criteria were used to establish the current status of the ecological resources and environmental conditions of Ulugan Bay.

Such ecological assessments, particularly when they involve a broad range of participants such as at Ulugan Bay, represent an important part of the process necessary to achieve comprehensive coastal planning and sustainable development.

Mouth of Oyster Bay, viewed from the northeast
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