7 July 2014

The Capturing Coral Reef and Related Ecosystem Services (CCRES) Project is a regional technical support project that seeks to unlock new, sustainable income streams for coastal communities in the tropics. 

The University of the Philippines (UP) , together with The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia launched the Capturing Coral Reef and Related Ecosystem Services (CCRES) Project in the Philippines today.

The CCRES Project will investigate the value of the services to human welfare and ecosystem health provided by the coastal ecosystem - seagrass beds, mangroves, coral reefs and fisheries. These services include food security, ecotourism, coastal protection, blue carbon sequestration, and storage and water filtration.

CCRES will develop knowledge products - which inform the design of global, regional and national projects, plans and policies - and technical models and tools which assist with the preparation of community-based coastal resource management plans.

CCRES is a multi-disciplinary technical project, featuring collaboration between leading centers of discovery, learning and engagement from North America, Australia and the East Asia-Pacific region, including the UP Marine Science Institute.

Project partners from the Philippines are the UP Marine Science Institute, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, the El Nido Local Government Unit, the El Nido Foundation and the Palawan State University.

Healthy coastal ecosystems are essential for the livelihoods, food security, safety, wellbeing and cultural identity of hundreds of millions of people in low-lying coastal areas across the East Asia-Pacific region. These diverse, yet fragile tropical coastal ecosystems are being threatened by degradation, due to pollution, unsustainable development, overfishing and climate change. 

Says the Director of the UP Marine Science Institute, Dr. Annette Juinio-MeƱez:  “Unlocking the economic and social value of these ecosystems gives an incentive to local communities, businesses, investors and policy-makers to preserve them (and their services) for future generations.” 

The Global Environment Facility (GEF), the World Bank and UQ are funders of the project. The UQ Global Change Institute has been appointed the project executing agency, while the UP Marine Science Institute houses the national coordination office. Project partners include Cornell University and the University of California (Davis) from the United States and Currie Communications from Australia. 

CCRES Project Director Melanie King, from the UQ Global Change Institute, says: “Better natural resource governance which adequately values the environment when calculating economic benefits, and good scientific information to inform decision-making and trade-offs is urgently needed.

“CCRES is seeking to help transform the development and stewardship of coastal areas by translating ecological value into financial terms for local stakeholders and policy-makers,” Ms King said.

Initially, CCRES pilot sites will be established in the Philippines and Indonesia. The outputs will be implemented and disseminated across the East–Asia Pacific region and globally. The pilot site in the Philippines is the municipality of El Nido in northern Palawan.

Once a boutique tourism destination, increasing publicity of El Nido’s dramatic natural beauty and world-class diving has fuelled in-bound tourism, particularly the backpacker market. Tourist numbers are doubling every five years (growing from approx.10,000 in 1994 to more than 50,000 in 2012) and the population is growing at 4.7% per annum.

For El Nido, the technical information produced by the CCRES project – knowledge products, business tools, planning models – will assist local decision-makers decide what level of economic development and social activity is sustainable. It meets a need from planners, businesses, policy-makers and regulators.

Find out more about CCRES at www.ccres.net

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