Documentation:Open Case Studies/FRST522/Assessment of community-based management in Danjugan Island, Philippines

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Executive Summary

A diver posing with a Giant Clam off the shore of Danjugan Island, Negros Occidental, Philippines.

Danjugan Island is a small, uninhabited island that is rich in biodiversity. The island is located off the coast of the Cauayan municipality in Negros Occidental, Philippines (Figure 1). Danjugan Island is privately owned by the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation Inc(PRRCFI) who has been invested in conserving the island and the marine protected area (MPA). Prior to Danjugan Island’s ownership by the PRRCFI and its designation as a MPA, there was significant degradation of the marine ecosystem. Local people grew an interest in the conservation of Danjugan Island and the marine and coastal environment. Thus, the PRRCFI established a community-based management (CBM) with local communities from the mainland (Barangay Bulata, Elihan, and Inayauan). Many people from these local communities have unsustainable livelihoods related to the depletion of fish stocks and farmers who lack access to land to grow food. Thus, they wanted to partner with the PRRCFI to conserve the marine environment and gain alternative livelihoods through CBM. However, this arrangement between the PRRCFI has not always been successful due to conflicts with the government and local people losing trust in the PRRCFI. In recent years, there has been an increase in trust and interest in alternative livelihoods and conservation amongst local communities. With that said, Danjugan Island is not a complete representation of a successful CBM. In addition, I recommend that efforts are made to encourage participation from the bottom-up collaboratively with local communities involved with the CBM. I suggest that alternative livelihoods be further explored to sustain the MPA, Danjugan Island and livelihoods for local communities.

Figure 1. A map of Negros Occidental demarcating the Cauayan municipality.


CARP Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
CBM Community-based Management
CCC Coral Cay Conservation Ltd.
CDO Community Development Officers
DA Department of Agriculture (provincial level)
DEEP Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program
DENR Department of Environment and Natural Resources
DIMRS Danjugan Island Marine Reserve Sanctuaries
DINTP Danjugan Island Nature Tourism Program
FO Fisherfolk Organization
FPA Free Patent Agreement
GTZ German Technical Cooperation
HR Homestead Rights
IP Indigenous Peoples
MPA Marine Protected Area
MWC Marine and Wildlife Camps
NGO Non-governmental Organization
NPO Non-profit Organization
ODF Organic Demo Farm
PCRIN Philippine Coral Reef Information Network
PO People’s Organizations
PRRCFI Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation Inc.
PRRP   Philippines Reef and Rainforest Project
SMA Special Managed Areas
SMSE Small and Medium Social Enterprise
SNCDP Southern Negros Coastal Development Program
WLT World Land Trust

Background information

Location and population

Danjugan Island is a small (1.5 km long and 0.5km wide) uninhabited island off the coast of Negros Occidental in the Philippines [1]. In 2015, Negros Occidental had a population of 2,497,000 and was the eighth province with the largest population in the Philippines (not including urban cities with high populations) (Figure 2) [2].

Figure 2. A map of the Philippines highlighting Negros Occidental.

Danjugan Island is part of the Cauayan municipality with a population of 102,165 from 25 barangays as of 2015 (Figure 1) [3]

A ‘barangay’ is a village that existed before the colonization of the Philippines by Spain [4]. The following barangays will be referred to throughout the following sections: Bulata (population: 4,804), Elihan (population: 1,486) and Inayauan (population: 10,945, the second largest population in Cauayan) [3]. Barangay Bulata, Elihan, and Inayauan will be referred to as the ‘local communities’ on the mainland across from Danjugan Island.

Livelihoods prior to the DIMRS

The main economy of Negros Occidental was built on sugarcane, which comprises 56% of the agricultural land area [5]. The expansion of the sugarcane industry led to the migration of subsistence farmers to coastal municipalities to look for other ways to feed their families [6] because they did not have access to land to grow their crops. However, there was a collapse in the sugarcane industry in the 1980s, and the province started to look at diversifying its economy [5].

A major issue throughout the Philippines is over-fishing (particularly in Negros Occidental) [1], resulting in the decline in fish stocks which also negatively impacts the fisheries economy and the livelihoods of fisherfolk [7]. The decline of fish was deeply felt around Danjugan Island [1]. Regardless of the adverse effects of over-fishing, the fisheries industry continues to persist by intensifying fishing and aquaculture ventures [7]. Over-fishing has also negatively impacted the marine and coastal ecosystems, leading to their degradation [1].

These unsustainable livelihoods have led to high levels of poverty felt by coastal communities, including farmers who migrated and fisherfolk who have become dependent on marine ecosystems for their livelihoods throughout Negros Occidental [6][7]. In Barangay Bulata and Elihan, 85% of the population has high levels of poverty [8]. The local communities are dependent on farming and fishing [8]. These unsustainable livelihoods have resulted in various stakeholders (e.g. NPOs and governments) working with communities to conserve the environment and investigate alternative ways to diversify the economy and coastal resource-dependent communities’ livelihoods.  

Ecological significance and conservation

Danjugan Island has limestone rainforests with five lagoons and is home to a diversity of species, many of which are vulnerable to development and exploitation along the coast [1]. Before 1994, local communities from the Cauayan municipality would visit Danjugan Island to collect firewood, resulting in some exploitation of mangroves [9]. The local people collected firewood from Avicennia spp. and Sonneratia spp. and Rhizophora spp. were harvested for building material and tannins [9]. However, during the PRRP, facilitators and the CBM worked towards conserving the island and restoring mangrove species using seedlings from the Cauayan coastline (Table 1)[9].

Table 1. Mangrove species in Danjugan Island [9]
Family name Genus and Species
Acanthaceae Avicennia marina
Arecaceae Nypa fruticans
Combretaceae Lumnitzera littorea
Euphorbiaceae Excoecaria agallocha
Lythraceae Sonneratia alba
Sonneratia caseolaris
Meliaceae Xylocarpus granatum
Xylocarpus moluccensis
Primulaceae Aegiceras spp.
Rhizophoraceae Bruguiera cylindrica
Bruguiera gymnorrhiza
Ceriops decandra
Rhizophora apiculata
Rhizophora mucronata

Danjugan Island holds a high concentration of biodiversity, including various fish, hard coral, butterfly, bird, mangrove, bat, seagrass, and macroalgae species (Table 2).

Table 2. Terrestrial and aquatic species in the DIMRS [1]
Type Number of species
Fish 572
Hard coral 244
Macroalgae 74
Bird 72
Butterfly 22
Mangrove 17
Bat 10
Seagrass 8
A coconut crab (Birgus latro)

Also, the west beaches of the island have nesting sites for the Chelonia mydas (green sea turtle) and Eretmochelys imbricata (hawksbill turtle) [1]. Danjugan Island has a population of threatened and endangered species. Threatened species include the Pemphis acidula (bantigue) due to exploitation for the bonsai market [9], while endangered species comprises the Tridacna gigas (giant clam), which has a restocking program and the Birgus latro (coconut crab), which is protected in the DIMRS [1].

DIMRS and the CBM

During the early 1990s, the Bulata community expressed their worries about the need for conservation in the area because of the depletion and degradation of marine resources [4]. The PRRCFI (NPO and NGO) was formed because the founding members had visited Danjugan Island since the 1970s and noticed the marine ecosystem’s degradation [4]. Over the years, the founding members built a relationship with the community in Bulata [4]. The PRRCFI partnered with the Bulata community, the local government and external NPOs (CCC, WLT) and started the PRRP in 1995 [4].

The PRRP aimed to decrease poverty amongst farmers and fisherfolk in the communities through alternative livelihoods [10][4]. Training for the local communities was offered, such as monitoring ecosystem health and conducting coral reef and rainforest surveys [10]. The project was also established to offer conservation and education opportunities [10]. PRRP implemented the CBM to protect natural resources in the coastal communities through alternative livelihood projects, the PO, and education awareness of marine conservation [11]. The regional government thought that the PRRP was successful, which led to the formation of the SNCDP by the regional government [4]. In 2000, Danjugan Island was designated as a MPA, known as the DIMRS [4]. Bulata, Elihan, and Inayauan communities are currently involved in the CBM of DIMRS (Dave Albao, personal communication, November 12, 2018). However, Barangay Bulata was the first community to be involved with the DIMRS.

Timeline of the DIMRS

Year Event
1990 (early) -Barangay Bulata community sees the degradation of marine resources [4]

-PRRCFI contacts CCC to support the Danjugan Island project and Bulata village [10]

1995 -Formation of the PRRP [4]

-Private-ownership (owned by PRRCFI) of Danjugan Island [4]

-Collaboration between PRRCFI, CCC and the WLT [4]

-PRRCFI and CCC formed a research and diving facility in Danjugan Island, and CCC started a natural resource assessment of Danjugan Island’s marine and coastal environment [4]

-Formation of the MWC (1995-present) [4]

1997 -PRRCFI and CCC collaborate with Negros regional government initiative SNCDP to manage coastal resources in a sustainable way [10]
1999 -Completion of the natural resource assessment by CCC [4]
2000 -Formation of the DIMRS (MPA) [4]

-Legislation for the DIMRS was approved in Feb. 2000 [4]

-DIMRS is the first PRRP, facilitated by PRRCFI [4]

-PRRCFI partnered with the CBM (Bulata community), the local government and external NPOs [4]

2003-2006 -Problems with the PRRCFI: lack of staff, funding, etc. [8]
2006 -DINTP: ecotourism revenue to run a long-term conservation program (applied for a grant to fund the project) [12] (could not find the start date of the DINTP)
2007 -New island manager and support from GTZ and SNCDP [8]
2008 -Study found that local communities were not benefitting from livelihoods [8]
2011 -Creation of the DEEP has trained youth on environmental education programs [13]
2018 -Training for the CDO for environmental law enforcement [14]

Tenure arrangement

A large proportion of land in Negros Occidental is owned by big landowners. The Philippines government provides landowners with financial compensation to allow landless farmers to cultivate the landowners’ land. The financial compensation can be problematic because the landowners frequently take the money without hiring farmers [5]. This is a form of corruption because landless farmers can be excluded. This land ownership is known as the CARP, which involves the redistribution of land for farmers to grow crops but does not allow farmers to have ownership of the land [5]. Essentially, tenure under the CARP should allow people to access private land and cultivate it under this system [5]. However, the CARP can be problematic because the farmers can be denied access to the land and become food insecure [5].

Danjugan Island is privately owned by the PRRCFI [4]. The island was purchased in 1994 using a loan by the Land Bank of the Philippines [15]. International fundraising by the WLT and CCC [4] allowed PRRCFI to pay back the loan in three years [15]. Before the PRRCFI gained ownership, the island was under two legal land titles; half of the island was under HR and the other under a FPA [15]. The HR required the landowner to convert the land for agriculture [15]. However, the landowner did not, and thus the island was not considered to be under legal ownership [15]. The HR was granted FPA and no longer under legal ownership. The DENR transferred the ownership to the PRRCFI [15]. A huge reason for transferring the ownership is because the PRRCFI intended to convert the island into a wildlife reserve and sanctuary [4].

Private ownership of Danjugan Island did not extend past the shoreline before its designation as a MPA [4]. Previously, the Barangay Bulata government had jurisdiction over the marine resources around Danjugan Island (15 km from the coast) [4]. The DIMRS was formed because the local government representatives involved in the decision-making (the barangay leaders, the mayor of the Municipality of Cauayan, and governor of Negros Occidental) voted to pass legislation to privatize the area at high tide [4]. This acquisition of land by PRRCFI helped gain trust between the local government, the Bulata community and the PRRCFI. The local community and local government trusted that PRRCFI would be a good facilitator due to their long-term relationship with the community and their interest in the sustainability of the DIMRS [4]. However, the communities lost access to harvesting and collecting natural resources on Danjugan Island [16] and in the SMA (no-take zones) in the DIMRS [4].

Administrative arrangements

Overall management

The DIMRS is legislated through the Cauayan municipal ordinance “and with guiding laws like the Fisheries Code and Wildlife Act” (Dave Albao, personal communications, November 12, 2018). The ordinance for the MPA was agreed upon with the fisherfolk and other members of the local communities [16]. The DINTP is managed by operations staff who are all from local communities from the mainland [14]. The PRRCFI acts as the facilitator for community development projects, including livelihood and conservation programs [4][8]. Presently, PRRCFI collaborates with communities and fisherfolk cooperatives on community development projects [14]. PRRCFI also manages the DEEP Community Centre and the ODF at Purok Tres (in Barangay Bulata), while local operations staff manage the DINTP [14].


The CBM has law enforcement officers, also known as community development officers (CDO), who are trained to enforce rules that govern the DIMRS [14]. There are 22 community members from Barangay Bulata who are involved (voluntarily) [14]. The CDO oversee the protection of the DIMRS [14]. Before 2002, there was no CDO due to a lack of funding for resources [4]. In 2002, the DIMRS was awarded the “Best Managed Reef” by the DENR, the DA and PCRIN and the award money was used to purchase a boat and other costs required to run the CDO team [4]. The CDO team is operated by volunteer law enforcers from Barangay Bulata and the local government [4][14].  

Monitoring species

When the DIMRS was established, the Bulata community’s fisherfolk were trained to monitor marine populations [4]. For instance, fisherfolk were trained to monitor fish and coral populations in the reserve of the DIMRS [4]. Once people were trained, there was “a local survey team capable of conducting reef assessments on behalf of adjacent communities” (p.796) [4]. The team also conducted an annual DIMRS Monitoring Program that was guided by the PRRCFI staff and external researchers [4]. It is important to note that there is some dependence on external agencies for equipment and planning [4]. However, the results demonstrate the benefits of the DIMRS based on data from the surveys that can be shown to the communities [4]. According to the IUCN (2017), monitoring only occurs every three to four years now (depending on the budget of the PRRCFI). I did not find sources that explain who is monitoring species in the DIMRS [16].

Social actors


The social actors who are directly affected by the changes made in the area are groups from the local communities and the PRRCFI. However, the main stakeholders are the fisherfolk (within and outside the FO) and farmers [8]; some of these actors are involved in the management of the projects that the PRRCFI runs on Danjugan Island and the mainland [14]. The MPA directly impacts the fisherfolk users because the fisherfolks live in the neighbouring villages and are dependent on fishing for their livelihoods. Many fisherfolk families have lived in the communities for generations and have a long-term relationship with the land and ocean and think that the marine environment, including fish, should be sustained for future generations [8]. They hold traditional knowledge about fishing and the marine environment, which has been passed down over generations [17][7]. The farmers are also directly affected because they live in the neighbouring communities and often lack ownership and access to land that they can cultivate (see 2.2. Livelihoods prior to the DIMRS and 3. Tenure arrangement). Both social actors are struck by poverty and want to gain a steady income to support their families [8].

The Danjugan Island operations staff are affected by changes to marine and coastal species, which are providing them with an income. However, I was unable to find information on their previous livelihoods. The local CDO are also interested in the conservation of the DIMRS [14] and dependent on the environment where they live. Finally, the PRRCFI is an affected NPO and NGO because they have ownership of Danjugan Island, care about conservation, and they want to help alleviate poverty through alternative livelihoods [4].


The NPOs (CCC, WLT) from the UK are interested in the conservation of Danjugan Island and the MPA [4]. The CCC aims to sustain livelihoods and alleviate poverty by sustainably managing coral reefs and tropical forests by collaborating “with governments and NGOs in the host country” (p.4-5) [10]. The WLT and CCC assisted with fundraising to help PRRCFI purchase Danjugan island and support livelihood and conservation projects [4]. The local government of Barangay Bulata appears to show interest in the wellbeing of the local people, land, and water because they reside in the area and represent the community.

Assessment of power relations

There are different levels of interest and power amongst social actors (Figure 3). The island operations staff appear to show ‘high interest’ in conserving the DIMRS because it provides them with an income, and older generations have seen the marine environment’s degradation over the years [4]. They appear to have more power than other people from the local communities; however, power may not be evenly distributed amongst the workers, so they have been placed in ‘high’ and ‘low’ power (Figure 3). The community officers show a high level of interest in the DIMRS and hold power because they enforce rules that govern the MPA (Figure 3).  The fisherfolk and farmers have been placed in ‘low power’ because they do not have as much of a say. Their levels of interest might differ because some people may be lacking faith in the PRRCFI and DIMRS due to their perspectives from 2008 (see section 6.2. Problems). The FOs have ‘lower power’ but might be gaining trust in the DIMRS due to the income that the DINTP has put towards their organizations (see 6.3. Enhanced CBM). The farmers may be gaining interest because they may benefit from access to land with the PRRCFI’s ODF on the mainland (see 6.3. Enhanced CBM). Therefore, fisherfolk and farmers have both ‘low power, high interest’ and ‘low power, low interest’ (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Power relations amongst social actors

The graduates of the MWC (now lawyers, biologists, etc.) have ‘high interest’ in the conservation of the MPA, and some may hold ‘high power’ regarding their ability to contribute to projects for the communities and conservation of the DIMRS (see 6.3. Enhanced CBM). However, it is unclear if they are interested in alternative livelihoods for the local communities (Figure 3).  Youth in MWC hold ‘low power’ but ‘high interest’ in conserving the MPA (see 6.3. Enhanced CBM) (Figure 3).

The external NPOs (WLT, CCC) hold ‘high power’ and ‘high interest’; however, the PRRCFI no longer depends on them for funding (Figure 3). The PRRCFI can self-fund through ongoing ecotourism that is being funnelled back into community development projects [18]. The municipal and regional governments hold high levels of power. They are not necessarily interested in the conservation and livelihoods of local people as opposed to economic benefits from industries (e.g. fisheries industry, industrial agriculture). Thus, they tend to have ‘high power’ and ‘low interest’. The communities’ local government tends to be economically driven and less focused on conservation but usually care about the local people they represent. Thus, I have placed them in ‘low power’ and both ‘high interest’ and ‘low interest’ because of the conflicting views between economic gains, conservation, and local peoples’ job security (Figure 3). Local governmental representatives in Negros Occidental often lack information and tools to support local communities [5]. The fisheries industry tends to have ‘high power’ and ‘low interest’ in terms of conservation and livelihoods for local people (Figure 3) [7]. The PRRCFI has been placed in both ‘low power and low interest’, ‘high power and low interest’, and ‘high power and high interest’ (Figure 3). This is due to the loss of staff, funding, the ability to support local people’s livelihoods, and the ability to protect the DIMRS (see 6. Discussion of the CBM).

Danjugan Island has not been an example of good governance because it has not always been participatory. Local communities have not continuously felt like they were included in the management, alternative livelihoods and support from the PRRCFI [8]. Furthermore, those at the top often hold dominance, control, and power over local communities [19]. While the PRRCFI wanted to avoid this, they do hold some control over the CBM due to the dependency on funds and local peoples’ dependence on the PRRCFI for alternative livelihoods [14]. A loss of power was felt throughout the communities. CBM “requires the devolution of power to less powerful social actors” (p.175) [19]. It is essential that there is a continuous transfer of power to local people for a successful CBM.

Discussion of the CBM  

Initial success

The design of the MPA was driven from the bottom-up [4]. When designing the MPA, fisherfolk were active participants in the decision-making process [4]. This is very significant because fisherfolk can hold local knowledge about the marine ecosystem of an area (see 5.1. Affected). Furthermore, at the beginning of the Danjugan Island project, the Bulata community had stewardship which led to “the initial success of the Danjugan Island project. The importance of local involvement mirrors the experience of other community-based projects in the Philippines” (p.798) [4]. Local stewardship is required for the long-term sustainability of the DIMRS and for the community to be interested in conserving the natural resources [4]. The CBM was also driven from the bottom-up because it was enforced and managed by the local community and local governments [4]. The DIMRS was “managed by the local DIMRS management council whose members operate on a voluntary basis” (p.791) [4]. Colourful posters were posted on bus stops and the council’s office to notify local people about the boundaries of DIMRS and the regulations [4]. Also, Danjugan Island visitors who dive in the reserve are charged a fee given to the local government that supports the PRRCFI management [4].

Mangrove planting

The PRRP adopted a CBM approach to protect the natural resources in the coastal communities through alternative livelihood projects, PO, and education awareness of marine ecosystems conservation which led to the establishment of the DIMRS [20][21][4]. Alternative livelihood schemes were set out to decrease poverty in the Bulata community [4]. Local community groups, including a women’s group and a fishery cooperative, were involved in the alternative livelihoods [4]. Grants were available to subsidize fisherfolk while other people volunteered [4]. Educational activities were implemented to involve the local community; for instance, there were short activities like mangrove planting [4]. There were lectures at schools (on the mainland), environmental teacher training (32 teachers trained), and the creation of the MWC [4]. There was training provided to approximately 15 women and 15 men on marine and coastal surveys (e.g. resource assessment course, SCUBA training, baseline assessment of resources) [4]. Also, there were courses on mud-crab farming and swine farming [4]. Crab farming failed because of inadequate cost-effective animal protein to feed the crabs. The pig-raising was a success because people from Bulata had knowledge of pig fattening and pig products (e.g. pork, piglets), which could be sold to neighbouring communities [4]. Other income-generative activities included weaving products (from pandanus leaves) and making banana chips [4]. The banana chips and weaving products were not very successful because the market is geared towards tourists, and not many tourists visit Negros Occidental. “Alternative livelihood projects around Danjugan Island appeared to be more successful when fostering existing skills or practices and where local markets were targeted” (p.795) [4].


Since the establishment of the DIMRS, community participation and alternative livelihoods have not been successful. While community participation existed at the beginning of the DIMRS, a study conducted in October 2008 found a decrease in community participation and alternative livelihoods for local communities (Bulata, Elihan and Inayauan) [8]. This was partially due to the PRRCFI not getting funding, staff leaving the organization and tensions between the local governments and the PRRCFI, and local people’s perceptions of the DIMRS [8]. For instance, the local government prohibited the tourist fee to Danjugan Island, which was helping fund the PRRCFI and livelihood projects [8]. These changes resulted in the local communities not gaining alternative livelihoods, not being involved in the MPA management, and people losing interest in the DIMRS [8].

The alternative livelihood schemes that were set out during the PRRP (see 6.1. Initial success) had not resulted in benefits to the local communities after 2000 due to the mismanagement of activities by the local people in charge of the PO who was dependent on external grants [8]. Many fisherfolks from the local communities reported that they were not paid for the mangroves that they had planted, even though the DA had promised them financial compensation for their time [8].

On another note, 80 local fisherfolks were interviewed from the three communities and did not see the DIMRS as increasing fish numbers, nor did they see the DIMRS as protecting the fisheries [8].  Berger et al. (2004) report the importance of communities being able to observe the results of their management [4]. However, these examples above demonstrate how mismanagement and the dismantling of the PRRCFI led to a loss of faith in the DIMRS, government, and PRRCFI amongst members of the local communities. Furthermore, Berger et al. (2004) cautioned that the PRRCFI “lacks strong capacity toward self-reliance and self-governance” (p.176) [4]. There was still the dependency on external funding, leading to the mismanagement of the PRRCFI (near collapse), which was felt amongst community members in terms of decreased participation, disbenefits from alternative livelihoods, and their tainted perception of the MPA [4].

Enhanced CBM

In recent years, community involvement changed with implementing alternative livelihoods and building trust between the PRRCFI and the local communities [14]. There is a stronger focus on the Bulata community and local fisherfolks [14]. There have been efforts to increase participation with local communities and “improv[e] relations with the local government and the communities” since the study conducted by Ferrer et al. (2009) (Dave Albao, personal communications, November 16, 2018). However, I have not found another source to back up this claim.

According to PRRCFI (2018), the FOs are benefiting from the income generated by the DINTP [14]. However, I was unable to find how many FOs the DINTP supports. All the income generated from the DINTP goes back to the FO for their “organizational and the fisheries management” [14]. Menzies (2007) affirms that CBM should include communities in managing resources and share the income and services flowing from management [22]. When people from local communities are actively involved, working together, and sharing the benefits, this can help create incentives to conserve MPAs. In this case, the local people are the FO and the operations staff for the DINTP. It is important to note that I did not come across sources that describe what the FO entails in terms of management of the fisheries (e.g. monitoring) and of their organization. The information provided by the PRRCFI is broad in terms of the management of the FOs.

The current state of the CBM has been enhanced by having local operations staff in charge of the DINTP (some operations staff have supervisor positions) (Dave Albao, personal communications, November 12, 2018). PRRCFI (2018) reports having “at least 25 local staff members, supporting a network of at least 25 families from [Barangay] Bulata, [Elihan, and Inayauan]” [14]. In contrast, when recently corresponding with Dave Albao (executive director of PRRCFI), he mentioned 20 island operations staff (personal communications, November 12, 2018). The reason for the different numbers of operations staff is not known. “Most of the staff members are native to their communities, but not [to] a specific IP group as defined by our national IP governing body. Most of the locals have mixed ancestry, but Negros is named after the IP Negritos. We speak Hiligaynon and Bisaya in this area” (Dave Albao, personal communication, November 12, 2018). The island operations staff are all local; still, it is unclear what their previous livelihoods were, whether they were fisherfolks, farmers or had higher-paying jobs.

Two community development programs have been set up on the mainland (in Barangay Bulata). The ODF engages communities to grow organic fruits and vegetables sustainably without using pesticides [14]. The PRRCFI does not define what they mean by ‘sustainable’; I hypothesize that ‘sustainable’ refers to not using pesticides. The DEEP and ODF have been implemented to promote community capacity building [14]. The DEEP (includes the MWC) provides training to youth on environmental education and conservation [1][14]. The Foundation of the Philippine Environment provides funding, and the DEEP aims to raise awareness about climate change, sustainable development, and the conservation of biodiversity [1]. The youth who graduated from the camps are now studying agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and other college programs [14]. All the youth who have graduated from the MWC are from the local communities [14]. There are 143 students who have graduated from the youth camps [14]. Many graduates share a passion for conservation and have left to pursue careers in conservation and have returned to Danjugan Island to share their knowledge with youth in the MWC [1]. While this suggests that many graduates have moved away from their local communities, it would be interesting to investigate if they are pursuing employment to provide alternative livelihoods in their local communities.  


Alternative livelihoods

Further information is required to assess the success of the CBM (FO, island operations staff, farmers, etc.). It is essential to consider if the local communities think they have benefitted from the livelihoods and conservation, from their perspective, and not from the NGO and NPO’s viewpoint. This is necessary to uncover whether the local people involved in the CBM perceive the FOs, DINTP, DEEP, and ODF as successful in alleviating poverty and providing alternative livelihoods for local communities. For instance, it would be beneficial to evaluate the success and the DINTP in alleviating poverty amongst fisherfolk communities also, whether they have alternative livelihoods other than fishing. Another unknown is if the local communities’ perceptions have changed regarding the MPA since establishing alternative livelihoods (after 2008). With the information provided by the PRRCFI, the CBM and PRRCFI appear to have strengthened their relationship since 2008. According to the PRRCFI (2018), livelihoods for communities involved in the CBM are improving [14]. However, it is uncertain if everyone involved in the CBM is benefitting from alternative livelihoods. On the other hand, conservation of marine and coastal species in Danjugan Island and the DIMRS seems to be successful [1][14][18].

I recommend investigating alternative livelihoods with the CBM. This should be done through focus groups with men and women separately through visualizations that ask community members what they want to see in their landscape and seascape in terms of livelihoods. Valuable species could be identified and potentially explored for alternative livelihoods (if the communities are interested). The PRRCFI, operations staff and graduates from the MWC could collaborate with the CBM (e.g. FOs) to find other livelihoods. For instance, handicrafts could be explored because people have experience with weaving [8]. Beger et al. (2004) argued that handicrafts were not sustainable during the PRRP because at that time there was no market and a lack of tourists in the region[4]. However, in recent years tourism has increased

Nipa palm (Nypa fruticans)

throughout Negros Occidental [23]; hence handicrafts could be a viable livelihood. The PRRCFI or the DINTP could set up an online store on the Danjugan Islands website to sell the FOs handicrafts. Another option could be collectively partnering with a SMSE to sell their handicrafts using direct trade, and profits could be shared equally amongst the FOs. However, rules and regulations would have to be established as well as a management system. The FOs (if they are interested) could start their own SMSE if they can get training on marketing and training to start a SMSE, perhaps with assistance from graduates from the MWC, DINTP, and PRRCFI collaboratively.

I also recommend other tentative livelihoods that can be explored, such as sugar production from Nypa fruticans (nypa palm) and starting a cooperative (with profit sharing) with the community members involved in the ODF. This cooperative could investigate value-added products from the ODF that could be marketed to local people, tourists, and SMSE with direct trade.

Collaboration and participation

I suggest that there should be increased participation within the CBM, the DIMRS, and mainland projects. The management of the DIMRS and mainland projects should be integrative and consider the participation of local communities that involves the “equitable distribution of responsibilities, benefits and compensation within the community” (p. 46) [22]. For instance, monitoring of species in the DIMRS should be done more than once every three to four years and should be done collaboratively between the CBM and PRRCFI. This is if the CBM is not already involved. I recommend that the local communities involved in the CBM continue to take stewardship of the management of the DIMRS and mainland projects.

Participation in the management of the DIMRS should be driven from the bottom-up by the communities to address the local communities’ needs. Beger et al. (2004) affirm that participation should be driven from the bottom-up, and the DIMRS should be enforced and managed by the local community [4]. This notion should not only be applied to the DIMRS but also to the projects on the mainland (ODF, DEEP). There should be the devolution of power from the PRRCFI to the CBM. The integration between scientific and local knowledge should be considered to improve the CBM. This must reflect the needs of the local communities and ensure that their perspectives are heard. The integration of local and scientific knowledge can help inform one another and work towards conserving the MPA and mainland projects to support livelihoods and species conservation.


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This conservation resource was created by Alison Liette Chadwick. It is shared under a CC-BY 4.0 International License.