Metro Pacific Investments Foundation. Inc.’s (MPIF) commitment to support the conservation of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and World Heritage Site (TRNP) has reinforced its Biodiversity and Habitat Protection, Research, Monitoring, and Restoration program by providing the necessary funding to mobilize ecosystem research, monitoring, and enforcement.
From January to September 2022, MPIF has funded two of three of the six annual relieving trips for marine park rangers, including their corresponding subsistence allowance. MPIF’s financial support has also allowed the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) to pursue its water quality monitoring and beach forest reforestation initiatives, as well as its equipment and supplies procurement.
“MPIF’s commitment to Tubbataha recognizes that strengthening its marine conservation includes supporting the stewards who work in service of the environment,” said MPIF President Melody del Rosario. “Safeguarding the Philippines’ Crown Jewel should be a collective effort inclusive of all stakeholders and thus benefiting the common people.”
This partnership between MPIF and TMO is envisioned to result in the improved conservation and protection of Tubbataha by determining ecosystem health, generating sound scientific information, serving as a basis for formulating proactive strategies, measuring biophysical indicators of management effectiveness, and ensuring the Park’s integrity and safety.
On Enforcement and Ecosystem Research
TRNP was named a Ramsar site – a wetland site of international importance – by the Ramsar Convention or “The Convention on Wetlands”, an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO. The Convention provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
Placing more importance to this integral biodiversity location, enforcement is one of the key elements in protecting and conserving the TRNP. Beyond funding three relieving trips conducted last April 11, June 8, and December, MPIF financed the subsistence allowances for 51 marine park rangers who were assigned to the park from January to December.
Aside from law enforcement, they were tasked to monitor the population of giant clams, deploy and check the hydrophone, monitor the reefs for bleaching and crown-of-thorns starfish infestation, conduct monthly turtle surveys, check the status of the seabird nesting structures, conduct monthly distance and quarterly direct counts of seabirds, conduct surface, and coastal clean-ups, maintain equipment and lighthouse in South Islet, repair and maintain the ranger station, and maintain moorings.
Water quality monitoring and beach reforestation initiatives were conducted to fulfill their ecosystem research and monitoring initiatives. With the assistance of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) staff, water samples and situated water parameters were collected from the 20 monitoring sites on the reef, inside the lagoon, and in the buffer zone of the park.
The parameters collected included temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, total dissolved solids, conductivity, and salinity. Water samples were taken to the PCSD Environmental Laboratory for analysis.
Since the saplings planted in Bird Islet in 2021 did not thrive due to the lack of fresh water, excessive pressure from seabirds, and disproportionate amount of sea spray due to rough seas, TMO partnered with residents of Cagayancillo to propagate beach forest trees for planting in Tubbataha during the season. MPIF defrayed the costs of propagation, transportation, and planting of the saplings.
“Our partnership with MPIF has ensured that we continuously value Tubbataha as an integral site for Philippine marine biodiversity. The initial stages of our collaboration have already resulted in beneficial initiatives and we look forward to pursuing equally important efforts for the coming years,” said Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Protected Area Superintendent Angelique Songco.
At Christmastime, monster waves and winds battered the 23-year-old ranger station so that marine park rangers had to be evacuated to safety by the Western Command. MPIF committed to providing an additional P1M this year for the repairs of the heavily-damaged Tubbataha Ranger Station.
The new ranger station complex will include the ranger quarters, a research station, and a helipad.
Shore It Up!’s commitment to Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is aligned with Gabay Kalikasan, one of the MVP Group’s Gabay Advocacies for a Sustainable Philippines. It is also in line with MPIC’s efforts to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly SDG 14 Life Below Water, 15 Life on Land, and 17 Partnerships for the Goals.
This partnership bolsters MPIF’s role alongside MPIC, as the largest catalyst for a Sustainable Philippines, aimed to improve the lives in the country through providing essential services and mobilizing advocacies that uplift the quality of life of all Filipinos.