Photo from RTI-SIBOL

The Research Triangle Institute (RTI) and the Western Philippines University (WPU) are working together to study the ecosystems in three protected areas in Palawan.

The goal of the project is to set up “natural capital accounts” in three Sustainable Interventions on Biodiversity, Oceans, and Landscapes (SIBOL) sites in Palawan: the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Cleopatra’s Needle Critical Habitat, and the Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape.

The MOU was signed Thursday, November 17, by RTI SIBOL Sustainable Natural Resource Management Specialist Rina Maria P. Rosales and Dr. Lita B. Sopsop, Dean, College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Environmental Sciences, and President Dr. Julie Hope Timotea P. Evina of the WPU.

The MOU underscores the importance of developing cutting-edge decision-making tools to improve biodiversity and socio-economic monitoring and analysis relevant to the management of the local protected areas in the province.

The WPU will serve as the academic partner of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) in tracking the flow and value of ecosystem services to provide the information needed for decision-making on relevant trade-offs in land and water use.

The academic institution is also tasked to valuate non-timber forest products (NTFP), recreation, and crop provisioning and create ecosystem asset accounts for coral reefs, fisheries, and other forest assets by applying economic models, tools, and instruments.

Based on the United Nations System of Environmental Economic Accounting (UN-SEEA), natural capital accounting (NCA) is “an umbrella term covering efforts to use an accounting framework to provide a systematic way to measure and report on stocks and flows of natural capital. Its underlying premise is that since the environment is important to society and the economy, it should be recognized as an asset that must be maintained and managed, and its contributions or services should be better integrated into commonly used frameworks like the System of National Accounts.”

“NCA covers accounting for individual environmental assets or resources, both biotic and abiotic (such as water, minerals, energy, timber, and fish), as well as accounting for ecosystem assets, biodiversity, and ecosystem services,” UN SEAA further explained.