Polillo Ecology Stewardship Programme:

Because of Polillo's conservation importance, a full-time wildlife warden or 'Ecology Steward', Vicente 'Enteng' Yngente, the first in the Philippines, was employed in 1997 under the auspices of the PESP devised by Fauna and Flora International and local wildlife biologists, with sponsorship assistance from the North of England Zoological Society and other international conservation agencies. Levels of hunting and deforestation have undoubtedly been reduced and local public awareness of and interest in conservation of the islands wildlife and forests have greatly increased due to his efforts. Without the establishment of the PESP, and the hardwork, dedication and expertise of Enteng, this project would not have been possible.

 

 

THE POLILLO ISLANDS

Physical features:

  • The Polillos are situated 30km off the northeastern coast of Quezon Province, Luzon (1450'N, 12205'E), Philippines.
  • Polillo Island the largest of the 27 islands and islets that compose the group, measures 761 square kilometres.
  • The rugged terrain of hilly and low mountain ridges forms a central spine across the island. Mount Malulod, of limestone geology, is the highest point, measuring 350 metres above sea-level. Most slopes only reach 100 metres with some about 200 metres.
  • There is no or very little dry season, with a pronounced maximum rain period from November to January. The southeast monsoon starts from May and continues until September, while the northeast monsoon is prevalent from October to April. Typhoons mainly frequent the island during the last quarter of the year.
  • Much of the landscape is criss-crossed by river systems.
  • Forests on Polillo are classified as lowland dipterocarp, beach forest and mangrove forest. Lowland dipterocarp forests once extended across the entire island.

Socioeconomic:

  • Agriculture and fishing are the main economic activities in the islands, coconuts and rice are the major crops. The island's economy is adversely affected by regular typhoons. Coconuts are relatively unprofitable because of the large land area required to produce economically viable amounts of the key export product, copra, which has undergone a recent price crash.
  • There are 5 Municipalities and a total of 57 barangays in the Polillo Islands: Polillo 20, Burdeos 14, Panukulan 12, Patnanungan 6, Jomalig 5, most of which are coastal.
  • The principal water source for Polillo Town is Sibulan watershed reserve (The tank supplied by the reserve has a 60,000 gallon capacity).
  • There is little transport infrastructure on the island at present. A road from the north to the south of the island is currently being built that will eventually link Polillo town, to Burdeos and Panukulan.

Marine Resource Use:

The people of Polillo are highly dependant on its natural resources. Most farmers in Polillo Municipality (around 70%) also fish because of falling copra prices (around 6 pesos a kilo - approx. 4 coconuts). Some resort to illegal fishing to gain profit, although aware that dynamite and cyanide have detrimental consequences they lack alternative means to earn a living. Polillo municipality therefore has more effort focused on protecting marine resources. The Philippine army previously supported the Bantay Dagat (marine guards) until Mayoress Almeda's term ended in early 2001, when the military was assigned to Infanta. Consequently the few bantay-dagat that the municipality can afford patrol the municipalities coasts armed only with radios and are not viewed with the same reverence by fishermen. The bantay-dagat mostly relay reports to armed police who are more equipped to apprehend the illegal fishermen.

 

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