Los Banos, Laguna - The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources released a copy of its newest publication entitled “Ecotourism Tracking Tool in Monitoring and Evaluation of Ecotourism Sites or Projects in the Philippines”. The publication showcases the tool developed by ERDB in consultation with the DENR-BMB and DENRFMB, DOT, DOST, and UPLB, as well as LGUs, park managers, and private and community tour operators which will serve as a monitoring and/or tracking document for evaluating ecotourism sites and projects in the Philippines.

The manual is an offshoot of the ERDB-led study from 2013 to 2014. Results of the study were used as basis in the development of the ecotourism tracking tool. Authorities can use the tool in monitoring and evaluating the friendliness and adherence of ecotourism sites to the principles of ecotourism. On the long run, this could ensure a better and more sustainable ecotourism management in the country.

With the use of the tool from ERDB, authorities can have a basis in issuing necessary certificates to tourism sites and projects in the Philippines. Offices like the Department of Tourism, DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), protected area managers, local government units, ecotourism project implementers, and private and community-based travel and tour operators will benefit from the tool.

“This tool will help concerned authorities monitor and evaluate the real activities of resorts, recreational and tourism sites in relation to their friendliness to the environment and adherence to the principles of ecotourism,” according to ERDB Director Dr. Henry A. Adornado.

Though there is already an internationally-recognized framework for rating the effectiveness of policies and practices of natural parks, ERDB’s tool was specified and initially tested and validated in 45 tourist destinations and/or key ecotourism sites in the country.

There are eight parameters that need to look into when checking the adherence of tourism sites to principles of ecotourism. These include 1) Policies, 2) Operations and Management; 3) Socio-cultural; 4) Ecotourism Products and Services; 5) Economic benefits; 6) Financing/Enterprise Building; 7) Biological; and 8) Facilities.

Using the score sheet, authorities could generate a final rating for an ecotourism site to determine its level of adherence. Sites can be given a high, moderate, fair or low ecotourism adherence. Sites with high rating will get platinum certification, gold for moderate, silver for fair, and bronze for low. The Tool can also be used to identify if a site needs to be further developed into an ecotourism site.

Ecotourism activities, if properly managed, could promote sustainable use of resources while providing livelihood opportunities for the local communities.

The manual is a product of collaborative undertaking of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with the Department of Tourism, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the University of the Philippines Los Banos – College of Forestry and Natural Resources as well as active participation from municipal tourism officers, resort managers, and travel service operators.

Copies of the manual are already available at DENR-ERDB and it is also downloadable for free at the ERDB website (erdb.denr.gov.ph). DENR-ERDB has started distributing copies of the manual to various government offices, protected area managers, and local government units. Interested individuals may contact DENRERDB for copies.