DENR, DOT ink agreement to preserve ecotourism

05 Feb 2013

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) inked an agreement with the Department of Tourism (DOT) to ensure that known ecotourism spots in the country are preserved and threatened species living in those areas are protected.

The agreement, signed by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., is in line with the project entitled “Partnerships for Biodiversity Conservation: Mainstreaming in Local Agricultural Landscapes,” or the Biodiversity Partnerships Project (BPP) launched last December.

According to Paje, preserving a biodiversity that attracts both local and foreign tourists can lead to sustainable tourism.

“The best way to promote tourism is to protect the country’s natural resources. We have to protect the environment to make tourism more sustainable,” he said.

Paje cited the world-renowned Boracay Island where there is a need to improve the quality of its beaches to guarantee the continued presence of tourists in the area.

He also underscored the need to protect endangered animals that serve as tourist attractions.

“A government undertaking would yield better results if two or more agencies will work together to achieve its goals. There are so many commonalities between the DENR and DOT when it comes to tourism,” Paje said.

The project involves training local government units (LGUs) in pilot sites, mostly threatened by unsustainable agricultural production and incompatible land use.

Under the agreement, the DOT is tasked to provide technical assistance to local communities in establishing sustainable tourism enterprises and activities under a Sustainable Tourism-Biodiversity Conservation Framework and Implementation Plan, and to facilitate its adoption.

The DENR, meanwhile, along with the Department of Trade and Industry and other partners in the program, would assess the feasibility of potential tourism projects in the BPP areas.

The BPP is a $17-million project funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and implemented by the DENR through its Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.

Total grant proceeds from the GEF and UNDP are pegged at $4.8 million while $12.2 million will be the counterpart from the Philippine government and its partners. - Rhodina Villanueva, The Philippine Star