El Nido, a hive of bustling tourism activity, has been selected as a pilot site.

Pilot site: El Nido, The Philippines

El Nido is bustling.

Progress has arrived in the tiny municipality on the northern-most tip of the island of Palawan, bordering the South China Sea, 620km south-east of Manila in the Philippines.

Historically, fishing and agriculture have been the main industries in El Nido, a municipality comprising 18 baranguys and covering 465 square kilometres. The main town of El Nido is a hub of activity.

Tourist numbers are doubling every five years, population is growing 4.6% per annum, inflation is the major worry and there is not enough food to feed everyone year-round.

Once a boutique tourism destination, increasing publicity of the area’s dramatic natural beauty and world-class diving has fuelled in-bound tourism, particularly the backpacker market.

Local authorities, who manage this designated resource-protected area, due to its high marine and terrestrial biodiversity, are wrestling with the question, “What is our carrying capacity?”

So, technical information that supports decisions about what level of economic and social activity is sustainable meets an urgent need from planners, policymakers and regulators.

As a technical assistance initiative which will ‘unlock’ the natural wealth of coastlines in the East Asia-Pacific, the Capturing Coral Reef & Related Ecosystem Services (CCRES) project meets this need.

This is one reason why El Nido has been selected as the first pilot site for CCRES.

The work done by CCRES at El Nido will reveal the value of services provided by seagrass beds, mangroves, coral reefs and fisheries and support the development of spatial planning tools. These technical products can be used to identify opportunities to support or enhance sustainable businesses which rely on the area’s coastal resources.  Learnings from the El Nido pilot site will be shared with similar projects that operate across the East-Asia Pacific region.