Sarangani Bay in southern Mindanao is home to threatened marine turtle species—locally known as pawikan—such as the hawksbill and green sea turtles. USAID, through its Protect Wildlife project, has partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), municipal government of Glan, and RD Foundation to help strengthen marine turtle conservation and protection initiatives in Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape. This collaboration resulted in the recent establishment of a marine turtle learning center in Burias community in Glan, Sarangani province, where many marine turtles nest because of its long stretch of beaches and minimal human activities. USAID provided materials for the construction while the municipal government, community officials, and Burias residents designed and built the learning center.
Designed after a small beach cottage, the 24-square meter learning facility was built 60 meters from the shoreline and adjacent to the DENR’s marine turtle hatchery. The facility offers a venue for conducting educational and advocacy activities on marine turtle conservation for schoolchildren, community leaders, residents of Burias and neighboring barangays, and visitors of the marine turtle hatchery. USAID also supported the development and dissemination of communication materials, such as custom-made comic books and a signage to inform locals and visitors of Burias on what to do when they see marine turtles or their eggs and how to report incidents. These efforts would encourage people to be involved in and advocate for marine turtle protection and conservation.
Based on the partnership agreement, RD Foundation would manage the facility and lead the implementation of learning center activities, such as training of local government officials and community members in identifying threats to, rescuing, handling, managing hatchery, and collecting data on marine turtles, with technical assistance from the DENR and Environmental Conservation and Protection Center. (PWP/ May Anne Ramos)