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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum
Posted By: Miguel Fortes
Date: Thursday, 12 August 1999, at 6:28 p.m.
Key words: city-twinning, coral reefs, multi-disciplinary approach.
NEW APPROACHES TO EDUCATION IN PROTECTED AREA MANAGEMENT
We have been implementing a kind of education (applied to integrated coastal management) which we, in protected area management, now deem more essential and much more pragmatic and receptive to the actual needs of people, compared to what we have been doing before. Briefly, this is so because:
1) it imparts not just knowledge but knowledge infused with culture and values, and complimented with skills,
(2) it is directed to the people who are directly affected by the impacts of decisions,
(3) it is implemented by the people mandated to implement the actions, but with the early and active participation of the other primary stakeholders,
(4) this is undertaken right at the place where the actions are taking place, and
(5) it is predicated upon scientific knowledge that is action- and management oriented, translated into a form that is easily understandable and acceptable by the people.
Let me now share with you my most recent experiences. These are directly related to what we are doing. This is in connection with three small projects entitled:
(1) Training Course/Workshop on the Human and Scientific Dimensions of Managing Tubbataha Reefs as a Natural World Heritage Site,
(2) Coastal Resources Management and Sustainable Tourism in Ulugan Bay,
(3) Exposure/Study Tour by the Sangguniang Kabataan (Municipal Youth Council) and Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) of Puerto Galera to Puerto Princesa.
Briefly, below are the most salient points of the projects. It should be emphasized that in this context, the "wise" nature of the practices is only perceived, backed by their adherence to established institutional procedures or norms and ecological principles. They are not yet fully substantiated. As education is a long term investment, the results may not even be realised in our lifetime.
MANAGING TUBBATAHA REEFS AS A WORLD HERITAGE SITE
This project consists of a series of 3 intensive workshops.
Audience: those directly involved in scientific research, advocacy and decision making re management of Tubbataha Reefs as a Natural World Heritage Site.
Theme/contents: values, skills, culture, integrated with action- and management oriented scientific research.
Output: group vision, change from within to effect a change outside, new integrated learning, greater commitment, actual experiences.
NOTE: the body mandated to manage the reefs, the Protected Area Management Board or PAMB, has been inoperational for more than 2 years due largely to "turf wars" between the main agencies regarding their mandates. What we did was to intervene (a wise practice?) via the workshops and let the members of PAMB meet on a simulated meeting to address the most pressing issues. 11 days after our last workshop, the governor who heads the Executive Committee, the highest decision-making body of the province, called a meeting with the operationalisation of PAMB as the first item of the agenda.
We resource persons represent UNESCO, an impartial institution mandated to oversee World Heritage Sites such as Tubbataha Reefs. In addition, we formed the Starfish UNESCO Club whose members are mostly participants, serving as an added "citizen" arm in case actions are stalled due to the usual inaction by government or other agencies.
COASTAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT AND SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN ULUGAN BAY
As part of the bigger project, a workshop undertaken by GREEN GLOBE, an international NGO, mandated to take charge of the tourism component, was held in Puerto Princesa, 16-18 June 1999. It looked at the potential of Ulugan Bay as a tourism destination. But the way their recommendations were formulated was not culturally sensitive enough, so we reacted strongly (but discreetly) against it. Simply prescribing cottage industries just because there are people who make baskets is courting disaster. Somewhere within the prescription, there has to be an effective cultural dimension to link with the action.
A most significant and surely a wise practice is our integration or linking of the research and teaching obligations of the UNESCO chair holders with the tourism and management activities in Ulugan Bay. For my part, my team does the assessment of the coastal resources (seagrasses, coral reefs, mangroves, fishes, seaweed), and investigates the demographic dynamics of mangrove saplings at both reforested and natural sites (with a scholar for the MSc degree). This management-oriented research now forms the basis for the tourism plan, likewise augmenting and updating the body of knowledge useful in the formulation of policies for area protection and sustainable use.
On the other hand, the Chair holder in the social sciences very recently finished a socioeconomic profile of the communities in the bay. In contrast to similar or related works in the past, this profile is much more receptive to the actual needs and perceptions of the people. With the scientific and educational inputs, it now forms a major basis for the tourism and management thrusts of the project. Come August, all these inputs (scientific, socio-cultural, anthropological, legal and educational) will be collated and integrated in a workshop in Palawan and immediately shared with the people.
I should mention at this point that the EU-funded project I am coordinating in the Philippines is likewise providing in-depth scientific input, which will be translated into a model for predicting recovery in impacted seagrass and mangroves. In addition, an ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia-Pacific) Project is also providing the satellite images at the site. With these two additional supports, I was able to delineate areas of utilisation and protection in Ulugan Bay. All these inputs will be used as a basis of a discussion come 24 July between the navy and the City Government of Puerto Princesa on the issue of whether or not to allow the navy to completely take over the bay for its military exercises.
EXPOSURE STUDY TOUR OF GROUPS FROM PUERTO GALERA TO PUERTO PRINCESA
The Exposure/Study Tour of the Sangguniang Kabataan (Municipal Youth Council) and Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) of Puerto Galera to Puerto Princesa is a part of the project I am currently implementing under the auspices of the Man and Biosphere Programme of UNESCO for the former site. Both sites are Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO and the idea is to work by example, in an effort to make the two "sister cities." Puerto Galera is a coastal town that has suffered years of neglect from the government and academe, and has undergone unregulated tourism development from shortsighted and environment-insensitive businessmen and politicians. On the other hand, Puerto Princesa, also a coastal town, has been the model in sustainable environmentalism not just in the Philippines but in Southeast Asia. The exposure trip gave all concerned the chance to meet and exchange views with their counterparts in government, including the mayors. We also visited the city's waste dump site, its parks, talked to the common people (tricycle drivers, boat men, entrepreneurs, etc.). A week after the trip, the youth leaders started meeting after every two Sundays to formulate plans for their respective communities. Two of their projects I have incorporated in mine (giant clam seeding of degraded reefs, assessment and development of the last remaining primary mangroves into a "mangrove park" for educational and tourism purposes). Two of the leaders are now allowed by the council to be present in the day-to-day activities of the town mayor.
The Sangguniang Bayan is the decision-making body of the town. I decided that they should make the visit to Puerto Princesa because no matter how worthwhile all the learning is, it will not be sustained if it is not translated into legislation, incorporated into management actions and infused in social norms (in other words, institutionalised). The only way that it could be institutionalised is if it is accepted by the people through, first of all, legislation. This trip will be on 15-18 August.
To augment this activity in Puerto Galera, the follow-up to the training we conducted last January (Effective and Affective Teaching Workshop for Teachers) will be implemented on 28-31 July. The result of the first workshop was overwhelmingly positive, the only need expressed was this follow-up. I was able to "stretch" my budget in the UNESCO Participation Programme and with the support of a private foundation, the workshop now has sufficient funds. Another wise practice is the participation of a few private families in Puerto Galera who have been the pioneers at the site. If not for their active involvement and actual philanthropic zeal, the spirit of the town as a Biosphere Reserve could have been forever lost. I may add at this point that the resource persons are actually "expatriates," graduates of the same university department who now are experts in their own right, dealing with the psycho-social aspects of environmental management. As important perhaps, is that they have a personal (sentimental) stake in Puerto Galera. All of us have spent our summer classes in the place while still in our undergraduate years. And we do help, not for anything material, but more for the love of it. Is this another wise practice?
NEW DIRECTIONS FOR ECOTONE ACTIVITIES
In April 2000, ECOTONE IX, the yearly activity of the MAB programme in East and Southeast Asia, will be Puerto Galera. My proposal was accepted unanimously in last May's meeting in Thailand. The theme I proposed for the activity was "Wise practices in Coastal Tourism Development in Protected Areas." But what will make the activity different from all the other ECOTONE?s is that it will be a workshop, constituent-driven and issue-based, where the participants will be pre-selected according to their expertise, guided by invited resource persons in the same fields, and invited to join teams to tackle very specific issues the town is confronted with. (The part actually sets a new direction for the other coming ECOTONE). The main output will be a set of concrete steps to actually help the town improve its development efforts. The learning will be compiled into a "wise practice" manual or sourcebook.
Two "unwise" practices in these endeavours somehow emerge: one is my sure inability to submit the reports on the activities on time, and the other, this input to our bulletin board which has surely taken too much of your time. Sorry.
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