Course:FRST270/Wiki Projects/Communities property rights and forest management in Palawan Philippines

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Communities, property rights and forest management in Palawan, Philippines


Mangrove forest in Coron, Palawan

Puerto Princesa City, known as the “City in the Forest.”[1] , It located in Palawan, the westernmost province of the Philippines. To achieve social justice, many countries have implemented different strategies for forest tenure reform, such as community forestry. This case study investigates community-based mangrove management in the Puerto Princesa, and also assesses economic, social and governance challenges of community forest in this area. The mangroves in Puerto Princesa provide a number valuable ecosystem services in various aspects – including natural fisheries, timber and non-timber forest products, and many species even depend on these areas to survive. However, more than 35% world’s mangroves are already gone[2]; the Philippine also have lost their mangrove cover quite severely, and the remaining areas were degraded to different extent. This study explores how community-based forest management (CBFM) is effectively implemented while protecting mangroves in Puerto Princesa City. In this case study, the complex interactions among various interested and affected stakeholders in the CBFM will be analyzed through different kinds of articles and related documents. Specifically, the study aims to examine how community-based management positively affects livelihoods, forest condition and local culture of PPC. Further, it will also identify challenges of community-based forest management and the possible reasons behind them, and analyze methods to promote benefits of sustainable development for indigenous people.


Background Information


The Philippines, is a island country in Southeast Asia, with a population of approximately 103 million. Although the Philippines is located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where a large quantities of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur, it is rich in natural resources and areas with the great biodiversity. It ranks 5th globally regarding its number of plant species and owns 5 percentage of the world’s flora[3]. In terms of Mangroves, the country has more than 50% mangroves species in the world, which as nearly 65 species in total. However, many data indicates that in ten regions, loss of the mangroves was continuous from1980 to 2005. The Philippines have also lost a huge number of mangroves cover. In 1920, the Philippines had 500,000 hectares of mangroves that have reduced to 117,000 in 1995, and this great loss of mangroves in the world was mainly caused by over-exploitation[4].The study area, mangroves in Puerto Princesa is one of most valuable mangrove forests in the Philippines. It provides various ecosystem services that contribute to local people, including provisioning (e.g. timber products, fuel wood, construction material), regulating (e.g. flood, storm,typhoon), provisioning (e.g. timber products, fuel wood, construction material), as well as cultural services[5]. Forests in the Philippines are state property and are under the responsibility of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which takes responsibility for governing and charging the extraction, utilization, and conservation of the country's natural resources.

Community-based forest management in Philippine

In 1995, the Philippine government adopted Community-based forest management as a nationwide tool to improve sustainable forest development. As lots of CBFM projects had been established across the Philippines, which has been considered a pioneer within Asia for the successful implementation of CBFM as a national scheme of forest governance[6].

Community-based Mangrove management in Philippine

Community Based Mangrove Management (CBMM) is widely applied in many countries of the world including the Philippines as a solution to protect and restore mangroves for the local communities. In the 1990s, the CBMM has a national scale in the Philippines, and CBMM initiatives were taken as a part of the comprehensive coastal management program consisting of coastal resources management [7].

Key stakeholders

Affected stakeholders

Any person, group, or entity that is likely to be subject to the effects of the activities in a locally important or customarily claimed forest area [8]

  • Members of Puerto Princesa City: people that rely on the mangrove ecosystem for subsistence and income (including fishing, agriculture, collecting of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), shrimp ponds and tourism)
  • Goals: Various livelihood opportunities; Sustainable environment development; Abundant resources; Land using rights
Oma with Tumihays family in southern Palawan, a Tau't Bato tribe.

Interested stakeholders

Any person, group of persons, or entity that has shown an interest, or is known to have an interest, in the activities in a forest area[9]

  • Government of Philippine (Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); Coastal and Marine Management Division of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB)): Responsible for governing and monitoring the extraction,utilization, and conservation of the country's natural resources.
  • Foreign industries: Engage in the business of timber products, fishery development and take the profit from the mangrove resources.
  • NGOs: Focus on the environmental influences and resources management of mangrove forests.
  • Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD): Maximize the rights and responsibilities of the indigenous people of the Puerto Princesa City within the government’s policies and regulations for biodiversity conservation. Work with local communities to better acknowledge and manage rights to other land outside of the national park

Tenure arrangements

The mangrove forests in Philippines are under state ownership, and are under responsibility of DENR. As Mangroves woods were the preferred fuel material for local coastal villages, large area mangroves were exploited for logging and collecting firewood and tanbarks in 1950s.[10]. In the 1960s, the main objective of government is expanding fishery and converted vast tract of mangrove forests into fishponds increase economic benefits[10]. Most of such programs were promoted by government, while creating special bank credit lines for finance fishpond development. In late 1970s, after the governmental institutions recognized the high value of mangroves, the National Mangrove Committee (NMC) was created, it was charged with the formulation of policies/recommendations for conservation and suitable management of the remaining mangroves forests in the country. Then, the Mangrove Forest Research Center (MFRC) was formed under the Forest Research Institute of the Philippines. From the 1980s to 1990s, there were significant effort to restore related coastal resources, including rehabilitate the destroyed mangroves. [11]. In 1987. MFRC have expanded, which became nationwide in scope and under the Freshwater and Coastal Ecosystems Section of the Ecosystems Research and Development Service (ERDS) of every regional office of the present Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) [11]. After that, by working with local communities, some promoting community-based approaches to coastal resource management have been launched: The Coastal Environment Program (CEP) and Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP) were respectively developed in the regional offices of DENR in 1993 and 1996. These projects established direct stakeholders’ partners of government in the sustainable mangrove forests management. Further, there are some community-based tourism projects and mangroves plantation projects initiated by local communities and related government. [10]. Because Not only the residents are keen about alternative livelihood opportunities, but also they have realized that the sustainable tourism potential of the city, while loyally protecting their environment.

Mangrove ecosystem of Puerto Princesa

Ecological importance

Mangroves, usually be described as one of most complex plant groups in taxonomy. Mangroves have tremendous values and significant ecosystem service to many species, and it is considered as nurseries for marine organisms such as fish, shrimp, and mollusks, and it is also habitat of wildlife. The mangrove forest of Puerto Princesa Bay is more diverse (containing 28 mangroves species; nearly 75% of the Philippine mangrove species), compared to other surveyed mangroves sites in Palawan [12]. Moreover, Mangroves play an important role at global warming mitigation; if rainforests are able to store 1 ton of carbon per hectare, mangrove forests can store up to 4 times more acting as effective carbon sinks deterring climate change[13]. The regulating services provided by mangroves are actually becoming more valuable due to their buffering capacity against natural disaster. [14]

Social importance

Mangroves are highly productive ecosystems that provide numerous resorces and different services both to human beings and the marine organisms. The indigenous peoples in Puerto Princesa City are considered as affected stakeholders in this case study, as these people are directly impacted by the activities conducted in the surrounding mangrove forests. Most of island communities depend on the resources that exploited from mangrove forest to survive. Fishing and agriculture are major income generation activities among local communities[15]. The mangroves are habitats for a large variety of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks, which offers abundant food resources and also create the economic potential for residents. Besides, collecting timber products is another common livelihood strategy at Puerto Princesa City. Mangrove wood is extremely useful as these wood species are resistant to rot and insect, thus, indigenous people rely on this wood material for multiple usages, such as construction material, charcoal production. Besides, given the complex ecosystem with special ecological values and diversity of life inhabiting mangrove systems, the opportunities of tourism development gradually be recognized. “Great potential exists elsewhere for revenue generation in this manner, which values the mangroves intact and as they stand.” [15].

Mangrove degradation

In 1920, there are approximately 450,000 hectares of mangrove forest area in Philippine. However, the decrease about 10 hectares per year is caused by the clearing of large area mangroves for development of fishponds, salt beds, and other domestic uses and reclamation for factories. [16]. As the related documents recorded that the mangrove depletion at a rate of about 3,700 hectares per year, especially from the 1980s to 1991s, the old growth mangroves have been reduced to no more than 20,000 hectares due to fishponds development. Further, Cheryl et al 2005 indicated that there are 500,000 hectares of mangroves in the Philippines in the early 1900s and degraded to 117,700 hectares by 1993 spread in 18,000 kilometers long shoreline[17].

Community-based Forest Management Projects

The Sabang Mangrove Paddleboat Tour

Lazy Dog kayak tours and rentals key west

According to Butler[18], the core of sustainable tourism is composed by 3 key aspects: Economic, Environmental and Social culture. In 2005, The World Tourism Organization (WTO) also defined sustainable tourism as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.” Similar to the concept of sustainable tourism, except focus on sustainable development, the community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) also enables tourists to explore local habits, wildlife, and experience local cultural traditions. The Sabang mangrove Paddleboat tour is an example of CBST, which also is one of the most attractive activities of Palawan. The project was initiated through the efforts of various key stakeholders (including local communities, several NGOs, City government) in 2002. As Jayagoda [19] introduced that: “There are 3 to 4 boats in operation every day. Contribution from the partnering organizations was received only for three years. During this period, Sabang community has engaged in training, especially the scientific aspects in relation to mangroves. Tour guides, who also work as boatmen, received 15-day training, and each one of them is capable of communicating in English”. During the boat tour, visitors can enjoy the beauty of nature and get close to wildlife, while listening tour guide introduces the cultural and historical background of Puerto Princesa and sings a folk song in the local language. The visitors are encouraged to plant mangrove trees as happy memories in Sabang, after finishing the boat tour. The CBST projects like the Sabang mangrove Paddleboat tour not only benefits on visitors and local communities, the sustainability of local ecosystem also be taken into account. For the income of tourism, 20 % is used for the maintenance and protection of mangroves and community-based tourism project. The remaining 80% is divided among tour guides. Also, financial support is provided for the local community when there is an emergency, illness or accident. [19] In Sabang, the local community is now suggesting indigenous people use alternative options for livelihood, as there is only 4 hectares mangrove area, which is the natural forest. Only the local communities are allowed to collect timber products, and there are no other activities of harvesting for making a living. To rational utilize of resources while promoting local traditional culture, a worm called “Tamilo”; it is a local delicacy that people eat raw and warm, dipped with lime juice. This worm is provided as a traditional snack to tourists. People who give donations and can try this healthy local delicacy[19].

Love Affair with Nature


Initially, this project was proposed by a group of boy scouts and girl scouts in Puerto Princesa City. This mangrove plantation project was implemented on Valentine’s day, and the mayor was invited to deliver a speech about the conservation and ecosystem protection. The project launched on February 14, 2003, by planting 2500 mangrove seedlings to 2-hectare denuded mangroves [17]. Residents of Puerto Princesa, residents lived in other towns on Palawan, fraternities and sororities and visitors from other islands even the foreigners come to participate or watch the event. The city government of Puerto Princeasa thru City Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn is spearheading the “love affair with Nature” after the first event. The objectives of this project are protecting and conserving existing mangrove tree species, as well as rehabilitating degraded coastal areas [20]. As an incentive to the local community, the city government provides the possibility of a free marriage, which is special and meaningful for many Filipinos. As a reward, each couple must plant a tree to stand for the symbolism of the event. The long-term objective of this program is assisting the public to promote the awareness of sustainable ecosystem developing. Also, lead the public to realize the importance of develop coastal eater natural resources of Puerto Princesa environmentally sustainable, socially equitable and economically practicable.


Impacts and Successes

As table shown below, which conducted by PCSD in 2005 with the support of JAFTA (the most reliable data to assess the mangroves land cover in Puerto Princesa). The data collected by using remote sensing technologies such as SPOT satellite imagery, which is broadly applied in detect land cover changes. It shows a positive increase of mangroves in the province of Palawan as well as in the city of Puerto Princesa. The degraded area was restored up to 57,386.52 hectares (2005) from 29,910.14 hectares (1992) in Palawan Province [17] .

Mangroves on Palawan Island

The community-based tourism in Puerto Princesa also promoted the development of an all-season, sustainable environment for the local communities, while embracing the diversity of users and fostering social, cultural, health, economic, and environmental benefit across the whole region. More remarkable, the communities locally owned by the community and did not over-rely on foreign ownership, at the same time, local communities fully aware of sustainability, the contribution from this activity and its potential.

Because the genuine efforts of the community and effectively resources management. Puerto Princesa City has won lots of international awards and was declared as first Carbon Neutral city by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The city was also recognized as the “Cleanest and the Greenest City” in the Philippines[17].


The possible risks in Puerto Princesa are associated with an over-dependence on tourism, which potentially serious economic impacts after a natural disaster. For instance, a typhoon or flooding that destroys both tourism assets and local ecological system, and difficult to be replenished once decimated by catastrophes. Unless there is other particular safety precautions in place, it is hard for visitors appear to be actively demanding that a hotel operating at a prescribed distance from the costal areas.


Advanced invitation system to attract participate

For attracting more organization and stakeholders to involve in the project, much advanced invitation system is needed. For external aspect, proper advertising activities can gain more attention and support from related organizations and governmental institutions. Thus, more funds and professional advises will be provided. For local communities, it is necessary that conducting a broad education campaign to engage local people, and promote the awareness of the public about the high values of mangroves and importance of conservation.

Selecting rehabilitative sites in a scientific manner

In terms of the selection of restored site, it should be conducted in scientific manner, and insure that most of needed areas are choose as targeted sites. Primavera and Esteban [21] reviewed eight mangrove rehabilitation projects in the Philippines and indicated that the long-term survival rate of mangroves is quite low at only 10 to 20 percent, although large funds has been invested for rehabilitating mangroves projects over the last two decades. Inappropriate species and sites selection are the main reasons this problems, as the most of ideal sites have been converted to brackish water fishponds. The desirable but unsuitable Rhizophora are planted in sandy substrates of exposed coastlines instead of the natural colonizers Avicennia and Sonneratia. [22]. Moreover, the projects like “Love affair with nature” only focus on planting Mangroves near to the sea, the planting on riverbanks should not be ignored.

Remote sensing for ecosystem management

The land cover types in forests are undergoing great changes due to the massive human activities. Thus, it is necessary to supervise the land use changes and classify the change detection, which can be characterized by well using these technologies. The remote sensing has broadly implemented for efficient management of forest resources [23]. These resources include wood, forage, water, as well as timber products. As mangroves is one of most taxonomically complex plant groups, Satellite and remote sensing images, with air-photo interpretation, combined with forest classification maps, will help to determine the volume of timber harvested from an individual tree or stand of trees[24]. The dynamic changes of residential and vegetation land using have been considered as a significant signal of observing regional development for different aspects. Thus, only when grasping resources distribution and ecological status, we can use it effectively and establish a sustainable development.


  1. Smithereens, J. H. (2017). Exploring Puerto Princesa, the City in a Forest. Retrieved December 04, 2017, from
  2. Oswell, A. (n.d.). Retrieved December 04, 2017, from
  3. Garcia, K. B., Malabrigo, P. L., & Gevaña, D. T. (2013). Philippines’ Mangrove Ecosystem: Status, Threats and Conservation. Mangrove Ecosystems of Asia,81-94. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-8582-7_5
  4. Jayagoda, D., & Gamage, D. (2012). Sustainable Community Based Mangrove Plantation Projects: Three Case Studies from Palawan Island, The Philippines. GSTF Journal of Engineering Technology,1(1). doi:10.5176/2251-3701_1.1.7
  5. Uddin, M. S., Steveninck, E. D., Stuip, M., & Shah, M. A. (2013). Economic valuation of provisioning and cultural services of a protected mangrove ecosystem: A case study on Sundarbans Reserve Forest, Bangladesh. Ecosystem Services,5, 88-93. doi:10.1016/j.ecoser.2013.07.002
  6. Dahal, G. R., & Capistrano, D. (2006). Forest governance and institutional structure: an ignored dimension of community based forest management in the Philippines. International Forestry Review,8(4), 377-394. doi:10.1505/ifor.8.4.377
  7. Datta, D., Chattopadhyay, R., & Guha, P. (2012). Community based mangrove management: A review on status and sustainability. Journal of Environmental Management,107, 84-95. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.04.013
  8. Bulkan, J. (2017, September). Affected and interested stakeholders. [Powerpoint Slides]. Retrieved from file:///Users/amykim/Downloads/13%20September%202017%20Affected%20and%20Interested%20Stakeholders%20(2).pdf
  9. Bulkan, J. (2017, September). Affected and interested stakeholders. [Powerpoint Slides]. Retrieved from file:///Users/amykim/Downloads/13%20September%202017%20Affected%20and%20Interested%20Stakeholders%20(2).pdf
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Cifor Center For International Forestry Research. (2017). Assessment of Natural Resource Governance Including Land and Forest Tenure in Coastal Mangrove Forests of Southeast Asia and Africa. Assessment of Natural Resource Governance Including Land and Forest Tenure in Coastal Mangrove Forests of Southeast Asia and Africa. doi:10.17528/cifor/data.00074
  11. 11.0 11.1 Guiang, E. S., & Castillo, G. (n.d.). Trends in forest ownership, forest resources tenure and ... Retrieved December 4, 2017, from,5064.1
  12. PCSDS. (2006). Baseline Report on Coastal Resources for Puerto Princesa City, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
  13. Dolorosa, R. G., Dangan-Galon, F., Sespeñe, J. S., & Mendoza, N. I. (2016). Diversity and structural complexity of mangrove forest along Puerto Princesa Bay, Palawan Island, Philippines. Journal of Marine and Island Cultures,5(2), 118-125. doi:10.1016/j.imic.2016.09.001
  14. Faridah-Hanum, I., Latiff, A., Hakeem, K. R., & Ozturk, M. (2014). Mangrove Ecosystems of Asia Status, Challenges and Management Strategies. New York, NY: Springer.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Rath, A. B. (n.d.). Mangrove importance. Retrieved December 04, 2017, from
  16. Gray, J. C. (2008). Responsible Destination Development: Puerto Princesa, Palawan,
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Jayagoda, D., & Gamage, D. (2012). Sustainable Community Based Mangrove Plantation Projects: Three Case Studies from Palawan Island, The Philippines. GSTF Journal of Engineering Technology,1(1). doi:10.5176/2251-3701_1.1.7
  18. Butler, R. W. (1993). Tourism – An evolutionary perspective. In J. G. Nelson, R. W. Butler, & G. Wall (Eds.), Tourism and sustainable development: Monitoring, planning, managing (pp. 27–44). Waterloo: University of Waterloo (Department of Geography Publication 37).
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Jayagoda, D. D. (2016). Community-based Mangrove Forest Management in Association with Sustainable Tourism in Puerto Princesa City of the Philippines. International Journal of Sustainable Future for Human Security,3(2), 23-30. doi:10.24910/jsustain/3.2/2330
  20. February 14 - Love Affair With Nature. (n.d.). Retrieved December 04, 2017, from
  21. Primavera, J. H., & Esteban, J. M. (2008). A review of mangrove rehabilitation in the Philippines: successes, failures and future prospects. Wetlands Ecology and Management,16(5), 345-358. doi:10.1007/s11273-008-9101-y
  22. Primavera, J. H., & Esteban, J. M. (2008). A review of mangrove rehabilitation in the Philippines: successes, failures and future prospects. Wetlands Ecology and Management, 16(5), 345-358. doi:10.1007/s11273-008-9101-y
  23. Wulder, M. A., Hall, R. J., Coops, N. C., & Franklin, S. E. (2004). High Spatial Resolution Remotely Sensed Data for Ecosystem Characterization. BioScience,54(6), 511. doi:10.1641/0006-3568(2004)054[0511:hsrrsd];2
  24. Sajjad, A., Hussain, A., Wahab, U., Adnan, S., Ali, S., Ahmad, Z., & Ali, A. (2015). Application of Remote Sensing and GIS in Forest Cover Change in Tehsil Barawal, District Dir, Pakistan. American Journal of Plant Sciences,06(09), 1501-1508. doi:10.4236/ajps.2015.69149

Seekiefer (Pinus halepensis) 9months-fromtop.jpg
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