Board member Ferdinand Zaballa, in a recent international conference, highlighted the impact of tourism on the environment in El Nido.
On September 5, during the 11th Meeting of the UNESCO World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves (WNICBR) held in Australia, Zaballa who is also vice chairman of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD, presented the issues besetting El Nido, along with the significance of the water quality monitoring in the Environmentally Critical Areas Network (ECAN) zoning efforts made by the PCSDS.
UNESCO declared the province of Palawan as a biosphere reserve in 1990, and the PCSDS- as the recognized authority managing the Palawan biosphere reserve- has been a member of the UNESCO-WNICBR since 2016.
Zaballa outlined his presentation titled, “Water Woes in Paradise: Unveiling the impacts and challenges of Tourism in Palawan Biosphere Reserve, Philippines”, describing how the recovery of tourism in El Nido after the pandemic has been both a source of economic boom and environmental stress.
Jovic Fabello, spokesperson for the PCSDS, stated that the presentation also included updates of the PCSDS’ in-house solutions for the challenges in Palawan’s waters. “Hindi lamang El Nido, kundi kasama diyan yung Coron, yung Puerto Princesa, at pinapakita natin ito sa international community para aware sila at may leksyon na matututunan sa kung anong nangyayari dito sa ating lugar.”
Fabello also noted that the purpose of the UNESCO-WNCIBR conventions were for the international communities to be aware of the status of biosphere reserves worldwide, and to submit recommendations for what should be done in terms of conservation.
Fabello stated that the main challenge surrounding the water woes of Palawan was due to governance. “Madami tayong environmental laws dito, yung problema lang talaga natin is yung implementation. Hindi lamang ganun kasi kadali magimplement ng batas,” Fabello said.
Zaballa underlined the collaboration and preventive mechanisms undertaken by the PCSD, Provincial Government of Palawan, the local government of El Nido, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Tourism (DOT), and other national government agencies, in collaboration with the private sectors, to curb the impacts of tourism in El Nido and its surrounding waters.
Zaballa also clarified the role of the national government in solving the El Nido environmental problems, and mentioned the collection of environmental fees from tourists and locals in the municipality.
The event is being organized by the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Secretariat, the Great Sandy Biosphere Reserve (Australia), the Jeju Biosphere Reserve and the MAB National Committee of South Korea, the Menorca Biosphere Reserve Agency, and the National Parks Autonomous Agency (OAPN) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Environment of Spain.