Saturday, August 10, 2013



Tuesday, 06 August 2013 17:43

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has come up with a set of guidelines for planning and managing of ecotourism activities within nationally designated protected areas.
DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said he recently issued Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2013-19 to support conservation efforts and sustainable use of natural resources in protected areas with tremendous potential for ecotourism development.
“The DAO institutionalizes the entire process of developing ecotourism within our protected areas, applies its concepts and principles, and ensures equal participation and benefits among the community members and other stakeholders,” Paje said.
Protected areas, now numbering 240 nationwide, are defined as “portions of land and water set aside for their unique physical and biological significance, managed to enhance biodiversity and protected against destructive human exploitation” as defined under Republic Act 7586, or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992.
Areas with ecotourism potential may refer to terrestrial, coastal or marine, caves, and wetland ecosystems.
According to Paje, other laws such as the Tourism Act and the Magna Carta for Women have been considered in the crafting of the DAO to ensure that activities within protected areas would be consistent with ecotourism principles.
“Ecotourism activities properly planned and managed would promote and guarantee the conservation and sustainable use of all biodiversity found within,” Paje said.
“It would provide business opportunities for the local community; involve women, children, indigenous peoples and the informal sector in all undertakings; and promote responsible tourism.”
The DAO covers the various phases in the ecotourism planning and management process, including site assessment that will determine whether ecotourism management is the right strategy for a particular protected area.
The data will be used by the Protected Area Superintendent in preparing the corresponding Ecotourism Management Plan (EMP) to involve stakeholders like local government unit (LGUs), the community, people’s organizations and other government agencies.
The EMP shall consist of five components, namely: zoning to determine how visitors can use certain areas of the park; visitor site planning to limit the impact of visitors on the natural environment; sustainable infrastructure design to harmonize facilities with ecological processes and natural beauty; visitor management to consider flow and behavior of visitors, as well as support the site’s “carrying capacity”; and revenue generation, including determination of applicable fees.
The implementation phase will be in accordance with all timelines, arrangements and budget provided in the EMP. All enterprises, meanwhile, will follow a business plan prepared by the LGUs or a partner from the private sector.
All plans will be reviewed by the Regional Ecotourism Committee and subsequently approved by the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).
The final phase of monitoring and evaluation will be two-pronged: 1) determine the progress of the implementation plan; and 2) study the effects of ecotourism development and their benefits on the community.
The DAO also calls for building the capacities of concerned implementers, from the national to the community level, through training, site visits and collaboration with partners.
The Department of Tourism and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) were identified as lead agencies in ecotourism product development, marketing and promotion.
Business planning will be led by the DTI, the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Small-Scale Industries, and accredited non-government organizations.
The Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority, LGUs, the Overseas Development Assistance and other donor agencies may be tapped for financial support.
PAMB, which is in charge of general administration of the protected area, has been tasked to approve project proposals upon the review and recommendation of the Regional Ecotourism Council.
The entire process, from the preliminary site evaluation to the preparation of business plans, is expected to take at least 10 months. #

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