Updates from the Protected Area Office
The Protected Area Office at the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area has been hard at work managing the national park all year. Here’s what we were up to in the first semester of 2018.
Good management decisions require good data, so we’ve been working hard to monitor the systems inside the protected area. With the assistance of Western Philippines University – Puerto Princesa, we conducted a Biodiversity Assessment Monitoring System in Barangays Masagana, Maligaya, and Corong-Corong in order to collect baseline biodiversity data in the protected area. We also hired 13 coordinators to conduct a Socio-Economic Assessment and Monitoring System survey in order to determine how best we can work with the communities living inside the park. We conducted surveys in 13 of the protected area’s 21 barangays and completed surveys in 8 of them. We declared 5 barangays cleared of illegal residents, as the portions of those barangays inside the park are mountainous and are therefore not occupied.
We also conducted studies to monitor coral bleaching, alongside University of Philippines – Institute of Physics, and to monitor the coral rehabilitation area at Snake Island. Finally, we mapped coastal coral and seagrass habitats with the help of Western Philippines University – Puerto Princesa. We produced initial maps of 2,000 hectares of seagrass beds and 422 hectares of coral reefs using high-resolution satellite imagery. On May 16, we facilitated a workshop on marine spatial planning in the protected area to better identify and conserve coral reefs.
Data is useless without a solid management plan, though, so we’ve been working hard to implement our Protected Area Management Board’s (PAMB) vision for the park. The PAMB met three times in the first semester of 2018. Mayor Rosento hosted the first meeting on January 30 at the DENR-PAO conference hall, in which the board endorsed ten resolutions favorably. The second meeting on February 22 at Seaslugs Bar was attended by the DENR regional director for the region of MIMAROPA, Natividad Bernardino. Finally, a third meeting, on May 10, was also hosted at Seaslugs Bar.
We also organized two Marine Spatial Planning Workshops, in conjunction with the Malampaya Foundation, to update the marine management zones of the protected area. We worked with stakeholders to identify the resources and wildlife habitats in different sections of the MPA, and to allocate those sections for different uses. The recommendations from the workshops will form part of the protected area’s Updated General Management Plan.
We’ve also been investing in our staff to develop a world-class protected area management and law enforcement team. We hired a new Forest Protection Officer to implement our ridge-to-reef approach for forest conservation, and a new Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program Extension Officer to better manage the marine portion of the protected area. Our Assistant PASU, Carolyn Esmenda, attended a “Damage Assessment, Response, Restoration and Monitoring (DARMM) of Natural Resources” workshop at the Tanza Oasis Hotel in Manila, and a Natural Capital Assessment Workshop at the Lio Estate in El Nido. And Lanie Jane Rey, of CENRO-Taytay, conducted a lecture and practicum on Marine debris for the ENTMRPA-PAO personnel, in which our staff collected 15 sacks of trash from island hopping activities.
Our law enforcement has been patrolling the protected area diligently in order to conserve the forest and reef ecosystems that benefit both El Nido’s wildlife and its people. Our Law enforcement team at the Small and Big Lagoons apprehended 13 units of illegal kayaks and 4 units of illegal wooden tables. The team has also been monitoring the construction of illegal structures in the park’s mangrove zones, where it has forwarded three consecutive notions of violation to 78 informal settlers. Finally, the team has been facilitating continuous information education campaigns to promote knowledge of the protected area’s zoning rules.
On land, our law enforcement team apprehended four units of chainsaw, 200 bundles of firewood, and 90 bd ft of Ipil lumber. The team also inspected the illegal construction of the pathway alongside Balinsasayaw Road, and inventoried illegal slash and burn forestry at Villa Libertad. The team inventoried the trees at the property of AYALA Corp, fulfilling the requirements for their application of PTLP, and the forest trees at Sitio Lagpan, Barangay Manlag, fulfilling the requirements for Mr Conrado David’s SAPA application. Finally, our law enforcement officials helped ten knots development corporation apprehend coral fragments and shells from a certain Antonio Lopez, a BizAsia journalist, which were supposed to be carried onboard an aircraft bound for Manila.
The ENTMRPA Protected Area Office believes that strong community support must be a fundamental part of any good protected area management strategy. We’ve therefore been focused on our community outreach efforts all year. We conducted Knowledge and Attitude Practices Surveys in Barangays Buena Suerte, Bebeladan, and Baucana. We also facilitated a Communication, Education, and Public Awareness campaign on waste management, and a waste management inspection at Sitio Calitang, Barangay Bucana, which was attended by 110 stakeholders.
Finally, the management of a protected area is complicated and multi-dimensional, and we conducted many interventions that do not fit easily into categories. We facilitated a dialogue on mooring buoys in the protected area in conjunction with the Malampaya Foundation. After the meeting we surveyed the number of mooring buoys in the protected in order to determine where buoys still need to be installed. We learned that the bidder of last year’s mooring buoys project failed to deliver on their contract, so we will subject the buoy process for bidding again in the current fiscal year. Using the results of our survey, we lobbied before the Board to allocate additional fund for the fabrication and installation of mooring buoys in the island destinations within Bacuit Bay.
We also assisted with the implementation of the “Task Force El Nido Challenge,” in which we conducted an inspection of affected establishments’ self-demolition efforts, and an inspection of the proposed relocation sites for residents affected by the demolition. Our rangers also participated in a coastal cleanup along Bacuit Bay. Finally, we assisted EMB staff with water sampling at Barangay Corong-Corong.