‘Social fencing’ protects Underground River- mgt

PPSRNP Park Superintendent Elizabeth Maclang orients the participants during the Biodiversity forum in line with the celebration of first Subaraw Festival.

‘Social fencing’ is one of the driving forces behind efforts to protect the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP), a park official said.

Elizabeth Maclang, park superintendent, said on Wednesday that “social fencing” is the establishment of community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) sites around the park.

Under the scheme, the CBST sites serve as “human fences” who will police themselves against committing illegal activities to ensure the sustainable management of the subterranean park.

“Social fencing ay ang ginagawa natin na pag-organize ng mga CBST sites at sila (members) yong maliliit na fence, bakod, human fence sila para mas masiguro na maprotektahan yong buong lugar ng park,” Maclang said during a biodiversity forum in line with the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival 2018.

It is a shared responsibility of the local residents, including the indigenous peoples (IPs), to protect the home of the underground river from environment abuse that will cause its degradation, she pointed out.

She said the scheme ensures the 100 percent protection of the park which continues to maintain its “universal value.”

Maclang said that to expand the “social fencing” of the park, they will be opening the Wonder Ground Paradise Karst next in Barangay Tagabinet as an additional CBST site.

“Mami-maintain natin ang outstanding universal value na sinasabi kasi kumikita sila at pino-protektahan nila ang kanilang mga lugar. Meron tayong 14 na people’s organizations dito na nakakatulong natin sa pag-protekta, buffer-to-buffer approach from Buenavista to New Panggangan,” she added.

She noted that the three CBST sites inside the park protected area — PPSRNP Jungle Trail, Sabang Mangrove Forest Paddle Cruise, and Sabang Waterfalls — have noticeable increases in their incomes from 2016 up to June 2018.

The paddle boat cruise CBST had an income gross of P2,435,431 in 2016 which went up to P3,656,340 in 2017 and P3,100,410 n January to June 2018.

Sabang Falls had P2,303.00 in 2016, increased to P7,804.00 in 2017 and reached P64,348.00 in January to June 2018.

Only the jungle trail, had a decrease in number from P801,182.00 in 2016 to P640,425.00 in 2017 and P419,200.00 in January to June 2018, Maclang said.

She cited the high number of typhoons that entered the country in 2016 which caused the cancelation of many underground river tours.

The PPSRNP is home to 38 species of mammals, an approximate number of 80,000 to 120,000 bats as of 2017, 179 bird species, 120 kinds of fish, 12 amphibian species, three kinds of marine turtles, 28 species of reptiles, 41 species of butterflies (six families), and more than 800 plants and 290 tree species in eight forest formations.

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