ECO disaster island becomes park.
THE UN Global Environment Fund (GEF) is highlighting a Philippines as an example of how local communities in developing countries can choose economic development avoiding the devastation of their surroundings. The GEF is holding up the example of Samar Island, a medium-sized island in the central Philippines. In the late 1980's much of its landscape was blighted through deforestation and mining of large bauxite deposits. Because this promoted soil erosion and flooding, the national government imposed a logging moratorium in 1989, indefinitely extended by the then President Corazon Aquino. This was followed by Samar Island being declared a forest reserve. But livings still need to be made and as a result the UN and the Philippines government created a Samar Island Biodiversity Project, focusing on the sustainable management of natural resources and providing alternative livelihoods to islanders, such as eco-tourism. This has been promoted by the creation of a 450,000 hectare Samar Island Natural Park, home to 38 mammal species, 215 bird species, 51 reptile species, 26 amphibians species, and more than 1,000 species of plants. A recent park and project joint statement said they wanted to "develop more ecotourism products in Samar as alternative options to help address the perennial issue of upland poverty and biodiversity degradation."