Category Archives: Green Destinations

Discover Danjugan Island – the Philippines’ conservation pioneer

“We saved an island…now we invite you to EXPLORE it.”

Danjugan Island

History

It was in 1974 when Gerry Ledesma, first visited Danjugan Island with some of his diving mates. Its thick limestone forests hosted many different kinds of birds and bats; its underwater was so clear with schools of fish and magnificent, intact coral reefs.  Scuba diving became popular and most divers then were spear fishers—and at the end of each dive day, tall stories were told about the sharks seen —there were tigers in the outer reefs surrounding the island and white/black tipped in the nearby reefs– and the big fish that got away.

Danjugan

Photo credits Danjugan Island Facebook Page

The early 1980s saw the decline of scuba diving due to the economic crisis brought upon by the government’s mismanagement of the sugar industry that most of the divers in Negros depended on.  1984 was a bad year too for Danjugan Island as Maricalum Mining Corp (MMC) stopped operations and its displaced workers started destructive fishing with blasting caps and cyanide from MMC.  The year also brought Typhoon Nitang that destroyed the shallow reefs of the island as well as in the entire foreshore of municipalities of Cauayan, Sipalay, and Hinobaan. The years of early to mid 90s emphasized the need for Danjugan’s conservation with episodes of logging and poaching and this finally provoked the offer to buy the island but Gerry didn’t have money. William Oliver, a British zoologist working on Negros endangered wildlife species, suggested contacting John Burton of the World Land Trust (WLT) whose thrust is the purchase of important biodiversity sites for conservation.  Soon, a noted marine scientist from the UK, Sue Wells, came to visit and not long after, Peter Raines of Coral Cay Conservation (CCC).  Then, an invitation to England for the launch of the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Project (PRRP) and within a month, a fund was transferred to PRRP for the down payment of Danjugan Island.

Danjugan Directors

Danjugan Island Marine & Wildlife Camp led by Gerry Ledesma, PRRCFI founder.  (right)

The Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PRRCFI) was established to manage and operate the PRRP, as well as the conservation program based on Danjugan Island that was expanded to include Southern Negros Occidental.  Due to the ignorance of marine and wildlife conservation, the group piloted the 1st Youth Marine Camp in 1991 with their children and children of friends and relatives.  The camp had pleasing results and children from the village of Bulata were included in the subsequent camps.  Presently, the camps are conducted each summer as the Youth Marine and Wildlife Camp and with the Philippine Department of Education as the Danjugan Environment Education Project (DEEP).

Location & Biodiversity

Resting 3 kilometers southwest off the coast of Negros Occidental, Danjugan is a lush, 43-hectare island rich in marine and terrestrial biodiversity. This island, about 1.5 kilometers long and 0.5 kilometers at its widest point, has 5 lagoons and is covered with limestone forests providing asylum to many wildlife species that struggle to exist in the mainland.

Together with Sipalay City and the Municipality of Hinobaan, it forms the southern border of the province and is situated in the Sulu Sea, an important eco-region for marine biodiversity.  The island’s surrounding reef is under the Danjugan Island Marine Reserve and Sanctuaries with three Special Management Areas or No Take Zones established in 2000 through Cauayan Municipal Ordinance 99-52.

Danjugan seagrass

Danjugan Island protects three major! marine ecosystems: sea grass, coral reefs and mangroves! Photo via Danjugan Facebook Page.

It holds an incredible biodiversity given its small size. At least 72 bird species have been recorded on the island, including a nesting pair of White- breasted Sea Eagles Heliatus leucogaster that have been breeding atop Typhoon Beach Camp since 1974 and  Tabon scrub fowls Megapodius cumingi which are common around the island.

Danjugan Camp.jpg

Danjugan Island “DEEP Camp”. Photo via Danjugan Facebook Page.

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

Increasing environmental awareness in the youth has been one of the major priorities of PRRCFI. The Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program (DEEP), funded by the Foundation of the Philippine Environment (FPE), endeavors to teach Biodiversity Conservation, Sustainable Development, Climate Change Issues and Values to teachers and elementary/highschool students of Cauayan, Sipalay and Hinobaan municipalities in Southern Negros. These are where the last remaining good coral reefs in Negros Occidental remain. DEEP attempts to inspire to teach students to be stewards of the environment.

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program

The DEEP was implemented starting June 2011. In the two years that it was executed, it aimed to address the shortcomings of environment education by delivering modules on biodiversity, marine and terrestrial wildlife awareness, climate change adaptation and mitigation, sustainability, and principles of responsible ecological stewardship to select public school teachers, students, barangay councils, and  LGUs.

Genuine green ecotourism

“We saved an island…now we invite you to EXPLORE it.”

Danjugan Island is now open on a limited capacity basis for visitors, to experience ecotourism at its purest: learn about the biodiversity within the area, its conservation efforts, eco-friendly facilities to include eco cabanas, solar powered electricity, communal served meals based on native cuisine and seasonally-available local produce and services offered by the locals within.

Make a difference and travel green to Danjugan!

You may also support its programs in environmental conservation and education when you visit. For more information and and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange, contact us.

The Danjugan Island is part of our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDINegros Occidental initiative, the sustainable tourism development & stewardship program for the province.

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Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SST offers LearningCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide platform to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Water waste – STP (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) solutions as well as other green destinations innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

For more information and assistance, contact us.

Bird Watching, prime ecotourism activity in Coron

Birding Coron2

Blue-Tailed Bee-Eater, Tulbuan Coron, Palawan. Photo by AL3Photography/CoronGaleri.

At the final and culminating Coron Initiative Capacity Building Series (TCI- CB Series IV) last March 2014, a presentation on Coron Bird Watching for Conservation and Ecotourism was conducted by Mr. Chin Fernandez, president of the The Wild Bird Society of Coron (or Birdwatch Coron). Mr. Fernandez is also the president of Calamianes Association of Tourism Establishments (CATE) and COO of Darayonan Lodge. Highlights of the presentation are as follows:

  • Birding must be promoted as an ecotourism activity in Coron. There is a growing trend among bird tour operators to practice sustainable and socially responsible ecotourism, while relying on local goods and services or supporting local conservation projects. Due to their accessibility and ubiquity, birds are a useful tool for environmental education and awareness on environmental issues. Birds easily transmit values on respect to nature and the fragility of ecosystems.
  • Bird watching is a hobby for enthusiasts, but it can be packaged targeting nature travelers in general who are into it as an alternative activity, since not all tourists may be fond of snorkeling/diving; or they may be both.
  • Bird watching can be an added value to spend one more day in Coron or some tourists may have an extra day, either for rest or for on any other possible activity for them. Bird watching may be introduced as it is a little challenging to see and detect birds in their natural habitat. However, once seen, tourists may be enthralled to witness the other wonders of nature.
  • A local group in Coron, called the The Wild Bird Society of Coron (or Birdwatch Coron for short),seeks to identify current and potential hobbyists in promoting the activity.
  • Adequate information campaign must however be conducted in collaboration with other bird watching and conservation groups as to the proper way of conducting the activity.
  • There is a move to declare by legislation, the Blue-headed Racquet-tail (an endemic parrot species), also locally known as “Kilit” to be a flagship species for Coron.
Birding Coron

Lesser Coucal at Sitio Banga, Coron Palawan. Photo by Al3Photography.

After Mr. Fernandez’s presentation, Mr. Alex Marcaida, from Palawan Sustainable Development Council (PSDC) the Workshop Facilitator had additional comments that bird watching is indeed an alternative activity to decrease pressure of tourist influx in water activities, or on a bigger scale, a tour package can be developed using the ridges to reef approach, wherein appreciation of nature may be on land and on water. He also lauded the movement of the Coron Birdwatching Society for the adoption and declaration of “Kilit” by the Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) of Coron as its flagship species along with the underlying protection of the species and its habitat. Such movement may be adopted by other Palawan municipalities and incorporated into the Palawan Provincial Tourism Development Plan targeted for enactment on 2016. It is also beneficial that bird enthusiasts upload their photographs of birds online as a feedback system for identification and added information on its behavior, habitat, ecological/economic value and conservation measures.

Photo Expedition

Coron Photo Expedition, Birding & Nature Adventure by Coron Galeri. Photo by Al3Photography.

For more information and travel assistance about our Birdwatching in Coron, visit our Green Travel Exchange and for your Green Hotels stay , send us a message.  Join our Society of Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. SSTDI- advocating green, eco-friendly and responsible travel. Promote your eco destination,  hotel, resort, lodging, restaurant, festival, event venue or hospitality services, spa or sports, transport, real estate development or any tourism-related enterprise espousing green or sustainable practices.

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SST offers LearningCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide platform to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Water waste – STP (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) solutions as well as other green destinations innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

For more information and assistance, contact us.

Coron, a GREEN sanctuary

 

TCI CB Series IV FB Cover teaser

The following is a re-post from an article by Ms. Chit Juan, Social Enterpreneur & Sustainability advocate Managing Partner of Echo Store (see our related blog on green products & gift ideas), one of SST-The Coron Initiative Resource Experts.  

CORON A green sanctuary

 
 

MANILA, Philippines – I remember Boracay in the early 1990s when it was lights out at 9 p.m., and you needed flashlights if you wanted to stroll along the shore after sunset, and resorts had ceiling fans and no air conditioning. Coron reminds me of such a time. And how I wish it would remain this way for a long time.

For daytrippers, you can dock your banca at Smith Beach where the boatmen from Al Linsangan’s cooperative will cook up a quick healthy lunch of grilled squid and local fish, and some pork too if you wish. The boatmen come to the beach complete with reusable plates and utensils so as not to litter the beach with disposable plastic utensils. And they encourage you to take as many pictures as you wish while they fix lunch.

After lunch, you board the boat to view Kayangan Lake, a steep 70-step climb in the forest where you are gifted with beautiful postcard views of the lakes of Coron. The island has many nooks and crannies, and snorkel spots like Twin Peaks, Siete Pecados, which responsible eco guides can lead you to. Beware that there are many tricycle drivers and boatmen posing as guides. There are about 40 licensed guides in Coron, and it would be more responsible to pay the proper fees for a proper guide. I wish that the local government is able to control the number of huts situated in the lake. The lake is actually best left to be managed by its original inhabitants, the Tagbanua, because they know how to preserve their environs.

You could also go by paddle boat (I do not know how long it would take to paddle from Coron town to the island though) so as not to disturb the animals that have the island as their natural habitat. Visitors should also not use insect repellents, lotions and other chemical products that could leech into the pristine waters, which are so clear you would surely be tempted to jump in.

To keep Coron as virgin as possible, a group of eco advocates have joined together to form the movement called The Coron Initiative. The movement seeks to teach tour guides to be eco guides, to teach resort owners how to buy green and serve green products, to teach boatmen how to preserve nature and to rally everyone to help save Coron from becoming another commercial destination.

A day trip may not be enough to see Coron island as it has many beaches and snorkel sites. A few more days are needed, too, to explore the rest of the Calamianes Islands – Culion, Linapacan, Coron and Busuanga – and that is just for a quickie view. Even Coron natives still have not explored all their neighboring isles.

What is important is to be a responsible tourist if we are to keep Coron and the rest of the islands pure and green. When we go on these trips, we should not expect city life and comfort. Rather, we should live as the natives do. We should all help in maintaining the peace and quiet of these islands. And of course, help in keeping it green and unadulterated.

There are eco advocates who have joined the movement and you may be better off seeing them on your visit to make sure you are with the green people:

Al Linsangan III is the community leader and head of Calamianes Culture Conservation Network Inc. He also operates responsible and eco-friendly green tours.

Hilbert Enriquez is a locavore and restaurant owner who infuses local flavor in his cuisine at Santino’s Grill.

Ivan Fernandez operates eco-friendly Coron Village Lodge and has adopted green ways like  using used cooking oil for their candles, retrofitting their lodges with eco-friendly materials, etc.

Rene Villegas shares his knowledge about Biology with the eco tour guides, promotes closed season fishing which is three days before and after the New Moon so we can save our favorite fish made into the famous lamayo danggit.

Eric Raymundo has volunteered his personal time to teach resort owners how to be energy efficient at the lowest price possible.

Caloy Libosada teaches tour guides how to be eco-friendly and how to appreciate birds and birdwatching as a tour possibility.

Chin Fernandez, another birdwatcher and Darayonan Lodge operator, promotes birdwatching tours.

PJ Aranador shares with resort developers how to be more efficient in using native materials while keeping the Tagbanua culture in their designs, rather than taking inspiration from Bali or other cultures.

Susan Santos de Cardenas is the moving force behind Sustainable Tourism initiative and has helped CCCNI find partners in the international community despite her being Japan-based.

And the chieftain himself of the Tagbanuas, Rodolfo, who joined our conference (The Green Leaders Forum last July 1 and 2, see related story) to get everyone on the same page while guiding The Coron Initiative members in respecting the ways and customs of the indigenous tribe.

There are many more advocates who can help preserve Coron and its sister islands and many more who can join the movement even while being a tourist or an investor. There are 688 more islands available for sale or investment and we wish developers would toe the line in keeping virgin islands like Coron the way they were when we found them. Let’s make it not just more fun in the Philippines, but greener too.

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SST offers LearningCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide platform to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Water waste – STP (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) solutions as well as other green destinations innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

For more information and assistance, contact us.

Ecotourism 101. Ecotourism Essentials

In 1975 Inkaterra built a lodge for scientists long before ecotourism was trendy
In 1975 Inkaterra, sustainable tourism pioneer and conservation leader, built a lodge for scientists long before ecotourism was trendy.

Along with other resource persons, namely Harro Boekhold of Contour Projects and Mr. Joselito Bernardo of the Asian Productivity Organization, we conducted the Train the Trainers in Ecotourism Planning & Management Course at the International School of Sustainable Tourism, in Subic Bay, Philippines. Apparently, among the Asia Pacific participants, there is still much confusion and ambiguities of the term “Ecotourism”.

Ecological Research and Conservation Funded By Tourism
Inkaterra: ECOlogical research and conservation funded by TOURISM. Scientific research for biodiversity is the baseline of profitable conservation, education and economic growth of local communities.

Not surprisingly, more so for the travel and tourism suppliers and market. Unfortunately the “eco” trend in the past years has triggered the travel industry to inundate the market with misused and misunderstoodeco -labeled tourism products, from hotel accommodations to tours, from lodges to excursions, causing misrepresentation and misunderstandingamong travelers from the tourism industry as to what the term “ecotourism” genuinely embodies.

Danjugan Island Marine Biodiversity - all researched and recorded.
Danjugan Island Marine Biodiversity – all researched recorded, and protected to let others learn from it.

So once and for all, we are clarifying the essence and emphasizing thebasic elements of Ecotourism.

  • Aims to conserve biodiversity
  • Sustains the well being of local people
  • Includes a learning experience
  • Requires lowest possible consumption of non-renewable resources
  • Stresses local participation, ownership and business opportunities, particularly for rural people

If your destination, property or activities does not have ALL of the above essential elements, then it is NOT “ecotourism”. In addition to these ecological essentials, Ecotourism has also these fundamental nature, no pun intended:

  • A greater focus on authenticity in terms of destinations, products and experiences
  • It is “Green consumerism” – increased environmental awarenessand concern about issues such as climate change and global warming
  • Sustainability should be at the heart of every tourism business and tourism product
  • Every tourism component- transport, accommodation, activities – should be ‘eco-friendly’
  • Ecotourism suppliers must keep it simple and sincere – genuine “green”!

Common ‘Eco confusion’:

  • “Green washing”: doing green vs. being green: just because you plant a tree, does not mean yours is already an ecotourism company. Must always have all the FIVE elements: not 4, 3,  2 or 1 only!
  • Must not be confused with Community-based tourism, Pro-poor tourism, Nature tourism, Adventure travel. As mentioned, all thefive eco essentials must be in place. ‘Nuff said.
Danjugan Island

To date, Ecotourism is just tiny niche of the global tourism market, has no traction yet and has just started to be mainstreamed. Tourism has an enormous potential, but without principles that fosters responsibility and sustainability it can harm our planet and wreck havoc to the fragile or climate vulnerable tourism destinations.

So no more confusions, no doubt about it. Don’t be misled by all the “eco-ish” labels. Just memorize the 5 ECO elements; YOU cannot go wrong. Go green!

Take a PERU DREAM TRIP  by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975; 100% Carbon Neutral travel and stay, any day departure. For more information and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange and Green Hotels stay, contact us.

Machu PicchuRe-visted in 2008

Travel with a difference in our green getaways  such as our Negros Agri-Tours, discover Danjugan Island, a true ecotourism destination, Don Salvador Benedicto’ (DSB) for a health and wellness break, and Care for Coron Island-  all meaningful journeys that touches the soul!

Iconic Kayangan Cove. Photo taken from Kayangan View Point, Coron Island
Iconic Kayangan Cove. Photo taken from Kayangan View Point, Coron Island

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SST offers LearningCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide platform to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Water waste – STP (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) solutions as well as other green destinations innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

For more information and assistance, contact us.

AEN LOGO

SST is proud to be part of the Founding Board of the ASIAN ECOTOURISM NETWORK

Photo credits: Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Conservation Leader since 1975, PRRCFI for Danjugan Island & Al Linsangan III for Coron photo.

Green Travel Tips

How to travel GREEN! Travel responsibly. Build lasting memories while protecting the communities/ regions you will travel to! These sustainable tourismtips will enhance your trip—and help you make a positive difference in the places you visit.

Isla Dibatoc, Coron, Palawan

Isla Dibatoc, Coron, Palawan

Before you travel

Find out as much as possible. The more you know about a World Heritage Site or Marine Protected Area, the more the site will come alive. Look into the site’s history, culture, natural environment, customs, legends, advisory notices, and more.

Learn a few words in the local language. Make an effort to speak the local language. Simple words like “Hello,” “Please,” and “Thank you” can go a long way to help you communicate with the people who know the site best—they’ll appreciate your efforts and your interest in learning.

Pack light. It’s tempting to pack everything you think you might need, but remember to be smart about your necessities.Packaging items like the plastic wrapping of your new toothbrush simply consume space in your bag and can create excess trash for the fragile sites.

Stay green. Shangrila Hotel Boracay with CSR & green initiatives.

Choose lodging thoughtfully. Look for eco-friendly hotelsthat have written procedures for environmental impact, employment, and cultural policies.

Explore transportation options. Traveling affects the environment. Wherever possible, try to minimize your impact by looking to alternative transportation and off-setting your carbon emissions.

Calamianes Group of Islands Palawan

The Coron Initiative by CCCNI. Do green. Stay green for the future generations.

During your trip

Engage in local culture. The saying, “When in Rome do as the Romans” still applies today. Your trip provides a unique opportunity to explore a new culture and to see the world through a different perspective. Enjoying local foods, shopping in local markets, and attending local festivals are all part ofexperiencing the culture.

Handmade Gallery Useful Gifts

Shop Local. Eat local. Spend local. Enjoy local. It takes you to start the trend. Photo: export-quality products fromHandmade Gallery, Negros Occidental

Buy local products and services. Choosing to supportlocally-owned businesses, community tour operators, and artisans means that you’ll have a one-of-a-kind experience and your money will go directly to the community. Before purchasing goods, ask about their origin. Avoid buying products made from threatened natural resources and report poaching and other illegal activities to the local authorities.

Refrain from aggressive bargaining. It’s often difficult to know your limits in bargaining, so if you’re not sure, ask your hotel for tips. Remember that the purchases you make directly affect vendors’ livelihoods, so decide if you really need to hang onto that extra dollar.

Hire local guides. Enrich your experience by choosing local guides who are knowledgeable about the destination. Ask local tour operators and hotels for recommendations.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Step forward without footprints. Tourism for the people, planet, profit.

Tread lightly. Some destinations are World Heritage sites or Marine Protected Areas because of their exceptional natural or cultural splendor. Do your part to keep them that way by following designated trails, respecting caretakers, and not removing archaeological or biological treasures from sites.

Respect the natural environment. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Even though you are just visiting and not paying the utility bill, disposing of your garbage properly and minimizing your consumption of water and energy will benefit the overall destination.

Think of the Big Picture. While it is important to support local economy, certain tourist activities and souvenirs can damage a fragile World Heritage site. Say “no” to a souvenir that’s a piece of the site itself, and to tourist activities that may be harmful to a site’s longevity.

Say “no” to a souvenir that's a piece of the site itself!

Say “no” to a souvenir that’s a piece of the site itself! ~ Sustainable Beach Management by The Clean Blue.

After returning home

Share tips about responsible travel. In addition to telling family and friends about the wonderful memories you made, also consider sharing tipson how they too can positively impact these destinations while having an amazing journey.

Explore more. Travel is just the start of learning. Once you return home, continue exploring and being involved with the issues or region that captured your attention. Build your knowledge.

Give back. Traveling often opens our eyes and our hearts. Help to preserve these inspirational destinations for generations to come by making a donation to programs that give back and benefit the local community.

Adopted_a_village_Coron Ecotours

Support or donate to The Coron Initiative Environmental Conservation & Educational programs to benefit the grassroots of Coron & Calamianes.

GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE is taking its toll on the planet, wrecking havoc and destruction to our natural environment, rural communities and even big cities! We have to do our part in leaving less impact to the environment. The message is RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL: let us protect the environment, care about local communities and respect their culture as we explore, experience and enjoy.

Join our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. SSTDI- advocating green, eco-friendly and responsible travel. Learn more about greening your destination and how to make your home community sustainable. Promote your eco destination,  hotel, resort, lodging, restaurant, festival, event venue or hospitality services, spa or sports, transport, real estate development or any tourism-related enterprise espousing green or sustainable practices through our Green Travel Exchange.  Travel with a difference in Green Getaways  such as our Negros Agri-Tours, discover Danjugan Island, a true ecotourism destination, Don Salvador Benedicto’ (DSB) for a health and wellness getaway, and Care for Coron Island-  meaningful journeys that touches the soul!

Take a PERU DREAM TRIP  by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975; 100% Carbon Neutral travel and stay, any day departure. For more information and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange and Green Hotels stay, contact us.

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SST offers LearningCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide platform to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Water waste – STP (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) solutions as well as other green destinations innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

For more information, contact us. 

 

Source: Expedia Travel World Heritage tips.

Photo credits: Al3 Photography for Coron photo.  

Sustainable seas, green economy in a blue world

 

TCI CB Series IV -Green Leaders Conference Workshop

 

Green economy in a blue world. Greening our ocean economies is a challenge that needs commitment from each of us – as the individual consumer, investor, entrepreneur or politician.  A less energy-intensive, more labor-intensive,  less destructive, more sustainable, less exclusive, more integrative approach will lead to more jobs, strengthen intra-and inter-generational equity and empower people to economic participation and greater self-determination. For the Philippines’ 7,107 islands archipelago , greening our coastal and marine resources means sustainable  management, conservation and protection, stronger resilience to economic or environmental shocks and social equity.” ~ The Coron Initiative (source: UNEP).

 

Boracay’s White Beach then and now.

I have been working for beaches most of my tourism career for almost three decades in various resorts in the Philippines. I pioneered in Boracay Island managing small resorts when there were only less than dozen in those days. Then, rapid, unsustainable development and environmental degradation just burgeoned. It was fate that brought me back full circle to the eco-depleted island after twenty years and I decided to do my part to form The Boracay Initiative, if only to enlighten public and private stakeholders to preserve their invaluable source of tourism livelihood.

The Coron Initiative, towards Sustainable Coron & Calamianes in the next millenium

The Coron Initiative, towards Sustainable Coron & Calamianes in the next millenium

I also had a chance to visit Coron, Palawan an emerging tourist destination, and I foresaw that without a Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility framework, it will suffer the same destruction as Boracay. Thus, we also organized The Coron Initiative with Lead Advocate-NGO, Calamianes Cultural Conservation Network and in 2013, co-organized with our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI.

In 2010, I was also invited to home-province Negros Occidental, and visited marine conservation sites in Sagay’s Carbin Reef as well as Danjugan Island, where illegal fishing is rampant aside from mining threat. From then, I proposed The Negros Initiative, to set up a similar greening guideline for the province.

SSTDI leads Negros Occidental in sustainable tourism and development stewardship.

With my hands-on knowledge and experience at Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer, Carbon Negative and Conservation Leader, I shared the best practices in ecological conservation funded by tourism, the preservation of culture and heritage, while sharing it with the world.

At a recent UNEP conference (January 2012), 65 countries adopted the“Manila Declaration – Global Protection Agreement (GPA)” – to strengthen the protection of global marine environment from land-based activities, emphasizing coastal eco resources as a key factor in the shift to a green economy.  This GPA made in the Philippines is very relevant as its 7,107 islands are rapidly losing rich natural resources due to marine-related commercial activities, such as fisheries, inter-island transport, tourism, mining, etc. These massive businesses leave destruction and escalate environmental degradation, loss of vital coastal habitats, marine biodiversity and shore water quality as it did to Boracay Island, the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs for Philippine Tourism. If not sustainably planned, Coron, Palawan, the next vulnerable tourism hot-spot will follow suit.

Coastal and Mangroves Destruction, Coron, Palawan, Philippines

Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal. ~ Edward Wilson

The Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources has implemented an Integrated Coastal Resource Management Program (ICRMP) and the Coral Triangle Initiative  (CTI) to “promote the sustainable development and ensure the long term productivity of coastal resources while providing social services, lessening poverty in coastal communities as well as delivering basic infrastructure.”

SSTDI’Sustainable Tourism frameworks are being implemented in Coron and West Visayas with institutional partners Zero Carbon Resorts,Green Hotels and Clean Blue Asia Sustainable Beach Management. These “Triple Bottom Line” initiatives are crucial for destination planning and development strategies towards the greening of tourism.  With the Manila Declaration’s commitment to develop policies to reduce and control wastewater, marine litter and pollution, the ICMP and CTI as guidelines, we will work towards a green economy for the Philippines, seeking green investments in tourism that can contribute to economically viable and robust growth, provide decent jobs, poverty alleviation and reduced environmental impacts.

SSTDI’s  Capacity Building programs for cities and communities include Good Governance, Climate Change, Resilience, and Disaster Prevention & Management among others to implement green solutions to global issues for grassroots growth, from policies to practices.

Coron Environmental Forum by The Coron Initiative, a public-private sector cooperation

The people who make a difference are not the ones with the credentials, but the ones with the concern. ~ Max Lacado

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SST offers LearningCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide platform to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Water waste – STP (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) solutions as well as other green destinations innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

For more information and assistance, contact us.

SSTDI is proud to be part of the Founding Board of the ASIAN ECOTOURISM NETWORK . 

AEN LOGO

 

The Boracay Initiative beckons – a serious call for conservation

We know the problems, we know the solutions. Sustainable development. The issue is the political will. ~ Ex PM Tony Blair

At Boracay White Beach, circa 1990 where Discovery Shores is now.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT.  I first went to Boracay Island, Philippines (voted as one of the best beaches in the world) in the late 80’s and we had a most fantastic experience in paradise. We travelled in the typhoon season; there were no air-conditioned buses for the long, dusty and grueling overland ride with the locals and chickens alike; no jetty port – we had to wade in shallow waters to board a motorized small banca,across the strait in rough waters. Boracay was not affected by typhoons then, however during this this season called the Habagat, southwest monsoon winds, we had to land on the other side of the island (Bulabog) and hike all the way to our resort located on White Beach, our luggage, transported by a water buffalo-pulled cart.  There was no electricity, no air-conditioning and no hot water showers in those days, but our stay was pure and simple pleasure. We had the time of our life!

Boracay Beach Club one of the first handful of “resorts” in the island.

WORK AT WHITE BEACH. Little did I imagine that just after two years, I would return to the island and work for one of the pioneer resorts, and stayed further on for 10 years to manage two small properties, tour operations and transport company.  Within this period, I also handled three small airline companies that serviced Caticlan, two were defunct and the ultimate one was Seair, which I had to persuade convincingly to fly there. The rest is history.

Boracay Beach Club now: Astoria , a concrete and glass edifice at the congested White Beach.

PARADISE LOST- WELL, ALMOST. I left Boracay in 2001 after 10 years of working there as I felt that it was excessively crowded, over-developed in a destructive sense and regrettably deteriorating due to lack of Eco-balance. I ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Returning exactly 21 years since I first came, with over 500 hundred resorts of all shapes, sizes and prices, there is hardly a trace of the pristine, peaceful and perfect paradise that I first saw. It is just chaotic congestion of lodgings, restaurants, bars, stores crowding with vans and tricycles, with no regard for proper zoning, maximum carrying capacity policies, no conservation value for natural environment, nor ecological protection not to mention, it ranks high in climate change risk, most especially on White Beach’s spectacular shoreline.

What have they done to the World's Best Beach?

What have they done to the World’s Best Beach?

FULL CIRCLE. It is perhaps the hands of fate that made me return to Boracay in 2010, as a Guest Speaker at Events Asia 2010 and as luck would have it, talk about Sustainable Events Management.  With my experience at Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer and Conservation leader, I shared my knowledge and experience in sustainable tourism and environmental conservation. In 1975, Inkaterra opened a lodge for scientists to study Peru’s rainforest long before eco tourism was trendy. With over 35 years of experience in sustainable tourism initiatives, it is the first to be carbon neutral in the country, doing reforestation projects in a total of 17,000 hectares in the Amazon and the Andes.

PLEDGE. After having seen the current deteriorated environmental status of the island, a  framework for a new Boracay Conservation, Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development, was conceived for stakeholders and local host community.

THE BORACAY INITIATIVE®- A CALL FOR UNITY AND SUPPORT.  The challenge is to espouse and implement The Boracay Initiative© (TBI) – an Environmental Conservation, Social Responsibility & Sustainable Tourism framework adapted from the UNWTO & Rainforest Alliance. TBI was presented to the island’s multi-stakeholders at the First Environmental Forum in 2010, organized with the cooperation of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources & Environmental Management Bureau -Region VI,  Office of the Mayor of Malay, Aklan, Boracay Foundation & Petron Foundation. However, to date, both public and private stakeholders have not taken it up at all.

 

LESS CONVERSATION, IT’S TIME FOR ACTION.  Fate brought me back to the island, which we have come to love and cherish, but it is high time for us to take action, less conversation! We must put all our efforts and resources to restore and conserve Boracay Island, its natural beauty and valuable coastal marine environement to provide sustainability, continued economic vitality and resilience for its stakeholders, the Philippines’ tourism industry and the future generations.

TBI was presented once again, to concerned citizens in the island, with the gracious hosting by Mandala Spa & Villas, multi-awarded Spa and ASEAN2012 Green Hotel winner. This time with the Society For Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. -SSTDI at the helm, TBI’s Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility framework is designed to be implemented with the cooperation of both private and public sector of Boracay Island,  with expert institutional partners Zero Carbon Resorts, Green Hotels & The Clean Blue.

So, Boracay Island and the Philippines, when will you begin to espouse Sustainable Tourism?  Conserve & protect the island/ 7,107 islands for the future generations?

 

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Educational programs for hotelsdestinations – LGUs, host communities,  private stakeholders and the grassroots and tour operators with Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria. Training programs for Destinations, Hotels, Tour Operators and Industry in general include Environmental ConservationGood Governance, Climate Resilience. The objective is to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals: poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate change. WASTE TO ENERGY solutions are now offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us.   
SSTDI is proud to be part of the Founding Board of the ASIAN ECOTOURISM NETWORK .  
AEN LOGO

 

 

Negros Occidental, Sustainable Agri Tourism destination

In 2010, while working on The Boracay & Coron Initiatives I took a side trip to my home province sugar land Negros Occidental in southern Philippines. Upon request of Tita Sonia Sarrosa, energetic CEO of 2010 ASEAN Green Hotel Awardee Nature’s Village Resort, I did a stopover to give a talk and presentation on Conservation, Social Responsibility and Sustainable Tourism.   I was happy to learn that in fact, Negros Occidental became the first organic province and aims to be the organic bowl of Asia.

A select group of Provincial officials and private tourism stakeholderswere waiting patiently for my delayed flight to listen to my presentation, gleaned from my first hand experience with Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975.

With children-guides at the Museo Sang Bata Negros in Sagay

Next day, we visited Sagay City, south of the province, home of Museo sang Bata Sa Negros (Children’s Interactive Marine Museum).  The Museum size, design and exhibits were originally intended for children but it is an attraction for visitors of all ages, too. Its focus is to educate primarily, children  on Coastal Marine resources especially of nearby Carbin Reef Marine Reserve. However the Museum also serves as a Welcome Center for all guests, offering a brief intro about Sagay’s marine biodiversity, conservation programs and a small hall dedicated to Sagay’s son, the late Governor Joseph Maranon. Several children act as guides in each mini-exhibit and their spiels are heartwarming and interesting not only for kids but also for adults

Carbin Reef Marine Sanctuary, a coral-reef restoration site

Just a quick motor boat ride from the pier across the water, we island-hopped to Carbin Reef Sandbar, the visitors’ base to the 200 hectareMarine Sanctuary. The tongue shaped white sand bar is open for day visitors on a limited capacity for swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving.

From Carbin Reef, we took a brief ride to Barangay Vito, where we took the motorboat to Molocaboc Island. We were graciously welcomed by the Barangay Captain and residents who offered us an exquisite lunch of native seafood, proudly produced by the island. Molocaboc has no fresh water resource, thus all residents make use of large earthen jars for rain water catchment to have water supply.

Japanese NGO’s visit the island yearly to do their outreach programs to include mangrove reforestation and sea ranching (a sustainable way of aquaculture & fishing). We then took a quick visit to the farm of college-friend, Jojo Bonnin in Barangay Alangilan,  a mini green-hideaway, just 15 minutes from the city.

Quarry Farm, Barangay Alangilan, Bacolod City

From this visit, The Negros Occidental Initiative was born, to develop responsible travel to Negros with proponents to include: Eco Agri Sustainable Agri Farm  showcase, Don Salvador Benedicto, the next emerging eco hot spot in the Philippines, Fresh Start Organic  and Rapha Valley Sustainable Agri tours. After this visit, several more conferences and workshops were help with yours truly as Resource Person to organize and lead the way forward for the Province to undertake a sustainable tourism culture for stakeholders, host communities and promote Organic Farming based tourism, as a true triple bottom line business model.”

Agri Tourism Sustainable Farm Show Case

Agri Tourism Sustainable Farm Showcase

SSTDI  organized the First Negros Occidental Environment & Sustainable Tourism Forum last November 22 – 23, 2012 in Bacolod City.

The objective of the Forum was to bring together stakeholders from the tourism sector, government regulatory agencies, resort-hotels, travel, transport, real estate developers, contractors, service providers, SMEs, and tourism related industries, environmental NGOs, civic clubs, Pos, IPs, the academe and the local host communities to enhance their knowledge on environmental care and responsibilities, help mitigate the effects of climate change, best green experiences, Sustainable Tourism & Development best practices. 

SSTDI’s vision is for Negros Occidental to be the Sustainable Agri Tourism model and foremost destination of Organic Farm-to-table, Cultural & Culinary experience in the Philippines! Tours can be organized into different themes and interests such as:

  • Family Fun
  • Culture & Culinary
  • Romantic Retreat
  • Girls’ or Guys Getaway
  • Outdoor Adventure

Don Salvador Benedicto Rice Terraces

Don Salvador Benedicto Organic Rice Terraces

For more information and assistance about Sustainable Agri Tours to Negros Occidental, contact us.

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SST offers TrainingCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide capacity building and solutions to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Waste water (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) Solutions as well as other green destinations solutions and innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

Sustainable Tourism, the way forward

Foreword. Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SST offers LearningCapacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities;  Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide platform to include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Water waste – STP (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) solutions as well as other green destinations innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance. For more information and assistance, contact us

Casebook on Environmental Leadership and Career Development. The Coron Initiative - promoting Sustainable and Responsible Tourism
Casebook on Environmental Leadership and Career Development. The Coron Initiative – promoting Sustainable and Responsible Tourism

Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries and an important source of foreign exchange and employment for many developing countries. Since the mid 90’s we have heard of the term “Sustainable Tourism” and thought of it vaguely as something good for the planetand for the future of tourism but most of us do not really know what it is and its value.

Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer since 1975, Carbon Neutral & Conservation Leader

Sustainable is Explainable. Here, we will try to explain what is meant by Sustainable Tourism according to the World Tourism Organization(WTO). Sustainable Tourism is “satisfying current tourist and host community needs, while protecting and improving future opportunities.” Put simply, Sustainability is the capacity to endure. In ecology the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time with due consideration for carrying capacity. Forhumanity, it is the continuing maintenance of its well-being, as it depends on the natural resources’ benefits and its responsible use.

In the Philippines, the 7107 islands archipelago is blessed with a wealth of natural resources: verdant tropical forest and a stunning range of marine biodiversity, even declared in one region as a Natural World Heritage site. However through the years, ignorance, recklessness, lack of education or awareness, poverty, deforestation and destruction of marine eco systems has damaged some of theislands’ beauty and assets, the very same source that provide livelihood for millions of citizens. More so for its top beach attractions, where stakeholders and travelers alike are unaware of their responsibility to conserve and avoid damage to the places they develop or visit, now vulnerable and threatened, and worse in some, endangered. This is not withstanding the fact that global climate change has fast-tracked the destruction.

“Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.” ~ Edward Wilson

According to UNEP, Sustainable Tourism describes policies, practices and programs that take into account not only the expectations of tourists regarding responsible natural resource management (demand), but also the needs of communities that support or are affected by tourism projects and the environment (supply) 2. Sustainable tourism thus aspires to be more energy efficient and more “climate sound” (e.g. by using renewable energy, minimize waste); consume less water;  conserve biodiversity, cultural heritage and traditional values;support intercultural understanding and tolerance; generate local income and integrate host communities with a view to improving livelihoods and reducing poverty.

Photo of Boracay's White Beach courtesy of Rene Thalman.
Can we still protect & conserve Boracay for the future generations? ~ The Boracay Initiative

Local cultures, values and traditions are affected adversely from the profusion of massive expansion without any regard for eco balance. One major loss is authenticity, a major pillar in the principle of sustainable tourism, which should maintain the geographical character of a place, its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture and well-being of its residents.

The Coron Initiative Sustainable Tourism Development & Stewardship co-organized by SSTDI.
Sustainable Tourism: benefits local communities & raises awareness, support for sustainable use of natural resources

Sustainable is Attainable. According to the WTO guidelines, “Sustainable tourism development requires the informed participationof all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building.” To achieve Sustainable Tourism, all sectors have to follow a continuous process which requires constant monitoring of impacts and implement the necessarypreventive and/or corrective measures at all times.

In summary WTO’s Sustainable Tourism is:

  • Making optimal use of environmental resources that form a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity to meet climate challenge 
Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program
Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program
  • Respecting the sociocultural authenticity of host communities,conserving their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contributing to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.
“The people who make a difference are not the ones with the credentials, but the ones with the concern.” ~ Max Lacado
  • Ensuring viable, long-term economic operations, providing equal socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders, including stable employment, income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities and contributing to poverty alleviation.
Luxury lodgings at jungle’s best: exquisite regional cuisine, guests learning about rainforest, biodiversity AND conservation.

Sustainable tourism should not only satisfy the travelers’ needs of pleasure and relaxation but also ensure a meaningful experience that raises their awareness about preserving and conserving nature and culture while contributing to the local community as a lasting legacy.

TCI CBSeriesII Teaser

SSTDI is proud to be part of the Founding Board of the ASIAN ECOTOURISM NETWORK:

References: UNEP, UN- WTO, National Geographic, Wikepedia 
Photos credits: Al3 Photography for Coron, Palawan, Inkaterra for Peru

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