“My happy place” is how Miledel Christine (Mags) Quibilan describes El Nido, a municipality in Palawan selected as a pilot site in the Philippines for the CCRES project.
A coral reef ecologist by trade, Mags has worked among the coral reefs of Palawan for almost 20 years researching and monitoring the effects of coral bleaching, infestations by Crown-of-Thorns starfish and local disturbances, such as higher boat traffic and pollution caused by the increasing number of tourists coming to El Nido. Over the years, she has seen a significant change in the health of the reefs and a reduction in the abundance of sea life.
“Reefs can heal themselves but this ability and their rate of recovery is upset by the man-made disturbances,” says Mags.
“If we maintain this track - if don’t change our ways - reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds will look very different. Lives and fisheries will change.
“The CCRES project will help us to demonstrate how the ecological conditions of our coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses are linked with the social and economic aspects of life in coastal communities,” she says.
“Decision support tools from the project will help people visualize and understand the consequences of their actions and make their own decisions about the future.
“We have a chance to change, and better protect the marine environment.”
Mags will coordinate the CCRES project in the Philippines and work with national and local partners and stakeholders to ensure the project delivers relevant outcomes that can be taken up at the local, national and regional level.
Mags is currently taking her PhD at the Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines Diliman in coral reef ecology. Her interests include marine conservation planning, marine protected area management, and climate change impacts on the marine environment. As well as being a passionate conservationist, Mags loves to travel and is a self-confessed “foodie” with strong interests in Asian cooking.