On February 12 to 13, 2020, 112 stakeholders of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) attended a workshop to enhance their knowledge of guidelines for establishing payment for ecosystem services (PES) schemes. They comprised officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS), local government units, and local enterprises. The local enterprises consisted of hotels, resorts, restaurants, transportation services, souvenir shops and community-based tourism associations, which are all dependent on the park’s natural resources. Currently, 17 enterprises have signed their intent to develop PES schemes.
The national park provides recreation for visitors and tourists and at the same time sustains the livelihood of local communities. While park managers have a system in place for collecting conservation fees from tourists, the same cannot be said relative to collecting fees from enterprises, which are also benefiting from recreation services provided by the park. The USAID’s Protect Wildlife project is brokering a deal between PPSRNP managers and enterprises to secure private sector financing for protection and maintenance of the park. In the coming months, stakeholders will participate in surveys and negotiations to determine how much they are willing to pay for ecotourism offerings in PPSRNP.
The project has been assisting its project sites establish PES mechanisms to finance local conservation activities. It has done so successfully in Mount Matutum and Pasonanca Natural Park in Mindanao, and Mount Mantalingahan in Palawan. In fact, these are already generating revenues for the purpose. In these schemes, PES revenues are ploughed back into the ecosystem for the protection, restoration, regulation and management of protected areas mentioned. They become a stable source of funding for conservation activities that include support for community livelihoods and enterprises. (PWP/ Meg Yandoc)