Participants present in the blended orientation and levelling-off meeting including the ERDB Director Henry A. Adornado, PhD, Assistant Director Mayumi Quintos-Natividad, staff from ERDB main office, UBRDEC Center Head Gregorio E. Santos Jr., Center staff from Calapan, Oriental Mindoro and Pagbilao, Quezon and its partners – LGU, Puerto Galera, DENR MIMAROPA, EMB MIMAROPA, PENRO, CENRO, MENRO, Tourism Office of Oriental Mindoro and other target stakeholders.

The UBRDEC partnered with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Puerto Galera, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), and the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in the implementation of the carrying capacity assessment.  Blended orientation and levelling-off meeting was held on August 27, 2020 to present the project, its objectives, activities and expected outputs. ERDB Director Henry A. Adornado was present in the meeting and emphasized the importance of conducting a carrying capacity study in an ecotourism area and showed his full support to the Center.

The total participants of 35 in the online meeting responded positively to the carrying capacity assessment and acknowledged its importance in Puerto Galera. To

Courtesy call with MENRO Joan Yap (left photo) and Puerto Galera Mayor Rocky Ilagan (3rd from left, right photo). UBRDEC team discusses the activities that will be done in the data gathering for carrying capacity assessment.

show support to the project, the participants provided insights and recommendations to properly implement the carrying capacity assessment and offered assistance in its implementation. UBRDEC Center Head Gregorio E. Santos Jr. expressed his gratitude to the support that each institution is willing to provide and assured them that the Center will work hard to deliver accurate research results that will be useful in the Puerto Galera.

Collection of data for carrying capacity assessment: On-site measurement of area used for tourism activity and geotagging of tourism sites (upper left to upper right photos), soil sample collection in identified sampling stations, and avifaunal assessment in established transect line within Puerto Galera (lower right to lower left photos).

After the meeting, the UBRDEC team secured all the required documents to travel to Puerto Galera and to gather the data needed for the project. Despite the limited transactions allowed due to the implementation of quarantine, the team pursued the travel on September 2-20, 2020 with the assistance of LGU Puerto Galera, PENRO Calapan and other partners.

The team conducted onsite measurement of ecotourism such as diving, snorkeling, and other beach activities, ground truthing or on-site validation of establishments based on listings with complete permits and environmental compliance certificate. Data on tourism carrying capacity were also gathered – inventory of tourist arrivals from LGU and survey using the carrying capacity manual.  Data on soil quality, water quality, biodiversity, traffic and transport, solid and liquid waste assessment were also collected and will be analyzed in the laboratory.

The UBRDEC hopes to deliver quality research to address the emerging environmental issues in one of the known ecotourism sites in the country. The Center believes that it is important to maintain the physical and biological resources while we enjoy the beauty of the nature. Ann Valerie V. Gillado