A study conducted by the School of Environmental Science and Management (Sesam) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) uncovers the impact of urbanization on the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Cebu.
The Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary (OIWS) located in Metro Cebu, a 5,800-hectare of low-lying areas of intertidal sandflats, mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs and islets, was proclaimed a wildlife sanctuary under Proclamation 903 in 1992.
However, urbanization, specifically coastal development, population pressure and the availability of livelihood and employment have posed a risk in the conservation of the protected landscape.
To determine these risks and recommend policies regarding urbanization adjacent to OIWS, Dr. Rico Ancog, assistant professor at Sesam-UPLB, conducted the study, “Urbanization adjacent to a wetland of international importance: The case of Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Metro Cebu, Philippines.”
The study surveyed land-cover change through the comparison of remotely sensed land cover map, available land-use maps, historical population data and household-level information.
From 1970 to 2010 an increasing trend in urbanization in the coastal areas of Cebu Main Island adjacent to OIWS was attributed to an increase in population.
The same study, however, showed that total population increase was lower from 2000 to 2010. This was attributed to the policy restrictions imposed by the proclamation of OIWS.
In terms of livelihood, residents within the 10-kilometer radius of OIWS source their income from fishing. Those living farther away from the vicinity of the protected area source their income as factory workers in the urban and industrial areas.
The urbanization in Metro Cebu caused issues and problems related to fishing in coastal communities in Cebu. These issues include decreasing fish stocks, illegal fishing practices and presence of solid wastes in the fishing areas.
To address the ongoing urbanization in Metro Cebu, the study recommended improved land-use planning that takes into consideration the alignment of regional, local and site-specific concerns of OIWS as a wetland of international importance.
Moreover, the study recommended to further strengthen the conservation framework of OIWS to address the environmental issues of Metro Cebu’s urbanization. It also recommended to include adjacent marginalized fishing communities of OIWS in the decision-making process to provide them an opportunity to improve the management of wetlands while addressing the pressures of urbanization at a regional scale.
The authors of the study, Dr. Ancog and Clarissa Ruzol, won the Dr. Elvira O. Tan Award in the Natural Resources and Environment Category during the the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development’s sixth anniversary celebration on Wednesday.