Baruang Magic Island is in one of the river deltas that flows into Ulugan Bay. It is described as a haven of unparalleled beauty for avian and other forms of wildlife. | Photo from Community-Based Sustainable Tourism Facebook Page

The City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO) has urged Community Based Sustainable Tourism (CBST) sites Puerto Princesa to use a “science-based” approach in developing their destinations to avoid adverse effects on the environment.

City ENRO chief Atty. Carlo Gomez stressed that he is not opposed to the establishment of community-driven tourism destinations, but is concerned about how the community is developing their sites and their environmental impacts.

This came after a CBST site, Baruang Magic Island, was opened in Sitio Baruang, Brgy. Macarascas.

“Ang nangyari ay naglinis sila doon sa area. They transformed the vegetation. Nawala ang ibang taguan ng mga ibon. Nilinis nila para pagandahin, pero alam niyo kapag hindi science-based ang approach niyo at pinalitan ang mga ornamental plants na hindi native doon sa area ay medyo nagbawas, nawala ang magic,” Gomez said.

(What they did was clean up the place. They transformed the vegetation. The birds’ natural home was taken away. They cleaned to make the area look nicer, but the magic was lost when the area was altered without using science-based approach as a guide and non-native plants were put in their place.)

According to the city’s chief environmentalist, the area was “magical” even before the CBST was established because of its abundant bird population.

Although the City ENRO has not yet conducted an assessment, Gomez has observed the effects of what was done to the site on the local bird population, specifically the decline of wild pigeons.

“This place, I called it a magical place, because it’s barely 500 square meters, but we are able to record 45 to 47 birds… it’s so magical. When I became City ENRO, I officially conducted and finalized the assessment to establish bird ecotourism. We immediately talked with the barangay officials, then we put up the CBST,” he lamented, adding they were unable to closely watch how the CBST will develop the area.

Gomez proposed rehabilitating Baruang by propagating endemic plants that the City ENRO is willing to provide without cost.

“Kaya I suggest na mag-adopt ng endemic plants para maibalik. Then we will provide plants ng libre. Gagawin pa lang natin yan pero kasama sa program (I suggested that they adopt endemic plants to help restore the habitat. Then we will provide plants for free. We will continue to do so, but it should be part of the program),” he said.

“Nandoon ang birds of paradise (plant), marami pa. Kasi tested ng proven na yan na talagang pinupuntahan ng mga ibon. [Kung sakali na magtuloy tuloy ang pagtanim ng mga endemic plants,] of course, babalik sila. Birds are like humans. They go where there are food and water. So, ang City ENRO, we will provide food and shelter at the same time habitat, nagsu-support doon sa survival ng ating wildlife,” he added.

(There are still a lot of birds of paradise. We’ve tested and proven that it’s the plant the birds will visit. Of course, if endemic plant cultivation continues, they will return. Birds are like humans. They travel to areas with food and water. So, the City ENRO will provide food and shelter, as well as habitat, to ensure the survival of our wildlife.)