Nature for WHOM?
There is no doubt that nature belongs to everybody. Sadly, many destructive activities have already damaged most of its resources before they could be allocated for the future Filipinos. It had been happening before the word "sustainable" was given to nature. Thousands of hectares of forest lands have been cleared for logging and mountains scraped for mining. The coral areas and the seas are becoming exhausted of marine life and the forest animals are hunted, exterminated and exported to zoos and private collectors. The whales, dolphins, mantas and other big fish and even sharks are consumed for the enjoyment of a few. Even caves are looted of their limestone formations. Very few of the national parks in the country have actually been developed for recreation, thus denying them of any economic benefits that could have been used as a means to maintain them. The term "sustainable development" has been used much too often that skepticism has started to seep in. Issues have been raised as to whether it is a concept that can be pursued or a fad to be forgotten in a few years.
Whether sustainable development is a fad or an ideal concept, all the indications show that nature's resources are consumed and converted so fast that the coming generations will be left with very little of what we have today. That is why we have to make sustainable living a way of life. We have to find ways where we can use nature without necessarily leaving nothing for the rest of the generations. We have to find alternatives.
Ecotourism offers that kind of alternative. The natural environment has been largely untouched by the tourism sector utilizing only a small part of the resources and concentrated mainly in the coastal and urban areas. In the past, mangroves were regarded as a refuge for the mosquitoes and a source of malaria. People understand only now that mangroves are sources of the wealth of the fishing industry and an interesting place to explore and learn from. This is just one of the possibilities. There is great potential for the Philippines to become a major ecotourism destination. It has a wide area of water territories, it still has large patches of tropical rainforests, the biodiversity and endemicity are so great that any person interested in natural sciences would think that the Philippines is a gold mine for studies. There are also old cultures which one not only appreciates but also learns from.
It is time that the Philippines starts to utilize its national parks with tourism as a major development, factor. Only the St. Paul Subterranean National Park in Palawan has so far achieved a degree of success in terms of preservation and utilization. We can still develop more areas where outstanding nature recreation can be made.
" Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time....."
........Sir Edmund Hillary
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