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Why Biodiversity Matters

Danjugan island marine biodiversity2

Danjugan Island Marine Biodiversity – a genuine ecotourism experience in Negros Occidental, Philippines

A guest post from Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Cielito M. Habito. 

Consider the following: Southeast Asia occupies a mere 3 percent of the earth’s total surface, yet is home to 20 percent of all known species of plants and animals on the planet. The region possesses 284,000 square kilometers, or one-third, of all of the earth’s coral reefs, and as divers will attest, what we have are among the most diverse, and the most beautiful, in the world. The mountains, jungles, lakes, rivers and seas of our region make up one of the biggest pools of biological diversity in the world.

Isla Bulungan_Al

Isla Bulungan, Coron, Palawan, Philippines, one of the attractions being conserved and protected by The Coron Initiative.

Three Southeast Asian countries—Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines—are among the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, a term applied to those that harbor the majority of the earth’s species, and large numbers of endemic (native) species. But there are also “biodiversity hot spots”—geographic areas with significant levels of biodiversity under threat from humans. Such “hot spots” are distinguished by having at least 1,500 endemic plant species, and have lost at least 70 percent of primary vegetation. And it is alarming that among the three Southeast Asian megadiverse countries, only the Philippines is in the biodiversity hot spot list. We are, unlike our neighbors, causing the destruction and disappearance of plant and animal life at a rate so fast as to imperil our environment’s ability to sustain human life.

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Canopy, Madre de Dios, Peru. Learn about the Amazon biodiversity and its inter-relationships at various levels of the rainforest ecosystems. Travel green to Peru!

Human life is only one form of an estimated nine million life forms that inhabit our planet. Most of us understand that the myriad life forms all around us interconnect in simple and complex ways to one another, in an intricate “web of life.” The interconnections can be visible and obvious, as with predators and prey in the food chain. They can also be subtle, indirect or invisible, as when chemical reactions in certain organisms affect other organisms positively or negatively. For example, the class of plants called legumes develops nodules in their roots that host bacteria capable of converting nitrogen from the air into ammonia. As such, otherwise unusable nitrogen in the air is turned into useful compounds like amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, which are in turn vital to animal and human life.

Don Salvador Benedicto Waterfalls

Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental, Philippines has a rich rainforest soon to be claimed by urban development.

In this intricate web of life, a change in one link of the food chain can lead to far-reaching disruptions elsewhere in the ecosystem. A 2011 study conducted by 24 scientists from six countries documented how the decline of large predators at the top of the food chain has disrupted ecosystems all over the planet. As observed by the study, large animals were once ubiquitous across the globe, and shaped the structure and dynamics of ecosystems. Their decline, largely caused by humans through hunting and habitat fragmentation, has had far-reaching and often surprising consequences, including changes in vegetation, wildfire frequency, infectious diseases, invasive species, water quality, and nutrient cycles.

Bulabog Beach Boracay

Bulabog Beach, Boracay Island in the early 80s. The island has but a few remaining forest and The Boracay Initiative is aimed to save Boracay Island and its remaining biodiversity.  Photo via Rene Thalmann.

A well-studied example of how human intervention can severely disrupt the natural equilibrium was the deliberate elimination of wolves in Yellowstone National Park in the United States between 1872 and 1926. When the wolves were gone, the elk population rose, and led to overgrazing of deciduous woody species such as aspen and cottonwood. Over the years, conditions in the park drastically deteriorated, leading park authorities to trap and move the elk, and eventually, kill them. Elimination of wolves also led to a dramatic increase in the population of coyotes, which in turn adversely impacted the population of the pronghorn antelope. Studies on the park’s ecosystem spanning decades led to the decision to reintroduce wolves into Yellowstone in 1995. This has since led to a decline in the elk and coyote populations, which in turn had further effects on the population of foxes, and on various forms of plant and insect life in the park. The new and often unexpected impacts of the reintroduction of wolves continue to unfold to this day.

There are many other similar documented examples elsewhere in the world of ecological disruption arising from human intervention into the biological system on land and in the seas. The lesson is clear: Compromising biological diversity and the complex interrelations therein will have unforeseen and far-reaching undesirable impacts that are bound to hit back on us humans in ways hard to anticipate. The World Wide Fund for Nature asserts: “Biodiversity underpins the health of the planet and has a direct impact on all our lives. Put simply, reduced biodiversity means millions of people face a future where food supplies are more vulnerable to pests and disease, and where fresh water is in irregular or short supply.”

twin lagoons2

Twin Lagoons, Coron, Palawan, one of the target conservation sites of The Coron Initiative. Palawan is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  Photo by Al Linsangan III.

The Philippines has the distinction of hosting the Asean region’s knowledge and advocacy center for biodiversity conservation, at the University of the Philippines Los Baños campus in Laguna. Established in 2005 with initial funding support from the European Commission, the Asean Center for Biodiversity is now supported by the 10 member-states. In the second Asean Conference on Biodiversity that it organized in Bangkok last week, hundreds of scholars, government officials, stakeholders and advocates explored the links between biodiversity and human health, business and biodiversity, and how biodiversity permeates the global Agenda for Sustainable Development and its accompanying Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

“A treasure trove of plant and animal life”—that’s how our part of the world is often described. Protecting that treasure is critical not just for the sake of the treasure per se, but also for the sake of our very welfare as human beings, now and far into the future.

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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 standards. 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.

Photo Credits: Al Linsangan, Rene Thalmann, Inkaterra, Danjugan Island

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.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Educational programs for hotels, destinations – 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.

 

Bird Watching, prime ecotourism activity in Coron

Bird Watching Training for Community Guides, a post TCI- CB Series activity co-organized by Society of Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. – SSTDI.

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.
Birding Coron2

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

  • 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. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs  to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. 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.

Third Lagoon, Danjugan Island. “We saved an island. Now we invite you to explore it!”  Photo via Liwanag Aristoza San Miguel.

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. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are 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 NETWORKAEN LOGO

 

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.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Educational programs for hotels, destinations – 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.

Source: Expedia Travel World Heritage tips.

Photo credits: Al3 Photography for Coron photo.  

Sustainable Tourism, the way forward

Foreword. Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs  to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. 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

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs  to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are 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 and a member of:

The International Ecotourism Society

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

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