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Philippines

Bogtong

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Conservation benefit: Protection of 969 acres of mangroves for 15 years

Community benefit: 200-meter mangrove forest boardwalk and interpretive signs

Date Approved: 02.2020

Ecotourism

This project supports a local conservation-based tourism initiative.

Mangroves

This project protects mangroves, which trap more CO2 than any other kind of forest and as a result, slow global warming.

Ocean

This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

Seagrass

This project protects seagrass, which traps more CO2 than any other marine ecosystem, slowing global warming.

Villagers on beautiful Busuanga Island are building a boardwalk along their thriving mangrove forest. The walkway will attract tourists and also help preserve the mangrove forests, coral reefs, and seagrass around the island, in Palawan Province. Because these habitats support both fishing and tourism, they are crucial to the rural economy.

The 969-acre Sagrada-Bogtong-Concepcion Marine Protected Area contains reefs, seagrass, and many species of mangrove trees. The entire area is a no-take zone, and the reefs have a live coral cover of 60 to 75%. In addition to common reef fishes, there are reports of black-tip sharks, green and hawksbill turtles, and dolphins. Dugongs drift through the seagrass beds.

Barangay Bogtong, population 1,076, is a village on the island. It has 237 acres of mangroves, which are part of the protected area. Still, people have cut the trees for charcoal, fuel, and poles. Worse, people have cleared areas for fishponds. When the fish farmers abandon these spots–as they typically do after a few years–they leave treeless, polluted sites.

With the enthusiastic support of the village, about 20 residents created a conservation organization called 3BG. In 2016, the group helped establish a protected forest area. They also operate a mangrove nursery and have rehabilitated 50 acres of mangroves. The group works with an NGO called Community Centered Conservation (C3 Philippines), which helps communities conserve coastal habitats. Its members have authority to enforce the MPA rules, and patrol it by boat daily.

The group has committed to expanding its efforts for 15 years. It is building a 50-meter boardwalk through the mangroves. With a Seacology grant, it will add another 200 meters with viewing and resting areas. This will:

  • Allow better monitoring of the mangroves.
  • Attract birders, kayakers, and hikers. Local people will sell food and handicrafts, and won’t have to rely just on fishing as a livelihood. The presence of tourists will discourage poachers.
  • Provide a place to teach children about the environment.
  • Give residents more pride in their unique natural resources—and a sense of control over their fate.

Project Updates

November 2020

Despite the difficulties of working during the pandemic, our nonprofit partner and village residents managed to finish the boardwalk while strictly following rules to keep everyone healthy. The process included coordinating with and/or getting permits from 12 different government entities. Many local people got training in how to be responsible guides; five passed an exam and are now accredited guides.

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September 2020

The mangrove boardwalk is almost finished–150 meters of boardwalk and two nipa huts are complete. Information panels are ready for printing and will be installed in strategic areas.
C3PH is working with government tourism agencies to set up virtual training for eco-guides and community managers.
When the government lifts the COVID-19 lockdown, the community will hold a ceremony to inaugurate the new facilities.

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July 2020

Carefully following safety precautions to avoid spreading COVID-19, our partner and community members have built 100 meters of  bamboo and concrete boardwalk. They are also working on the design and content of interpretive signs.

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May 2020

Soon after Seacology approved this project, Busuanga Island went into quarantine because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Work will start when the government lifts restrictions.

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