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Camp Magsaysay now an educational facility


RAJAH Sikatuna's Camp Magsaysay in Bilar town gets a facelift, and it was no easy as a casual walk to the parlor. Soil and Water Conservation Foundation (SWCF) Executive Director Bill Granert, in an interview said his non-government organization is assisting the community at Riverside in Bilar and the Protected Areas Management Board to agree on the terms for a new packaging for Bohol 's nature's heritage park into an environment educational facility.

Such a move was totally unthinkable then when the community thought they infinite resources available in the nearby forest. But for the sake of environmental sustainability, community organizers and local leaders strived to overcome apathy and strike the balance.

The communities living on the forest fringes have freely accessed the RSPL, and the scars of slash and burn farming glaringly show that the forest has often been used for food and livelihood. Then packaged with caged animals for viewing, Granert said a forest eco-tourism camp has to realize that wildlife is respected and tourists just happen to be guests in the camp.

Recently, the trend pursued by the government is the community based forest management system (CBFMS) as it affords participation of communities that run to the forests for survival. Camp Magsaysay, established as Boys Scout Camp in 1970's at the southern part of Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape (RSPL) is repackaged after New Zealand's National Eco-tourism Project, European Commission's Small Projects Facility and the United Nation's Development Program granted fiscal and technical assistance to the Riverside Community in Bilar, Bohol.

The National Integrated Protected Areas Systems identified RSPL is Bohol's last frontier of the Philippine molave, and wild orchids, the flying lemur, Philippine Tarsier and the endemic birds brahminny kite, koch and hooded pitta and the whole variety of fruit doves and wild pigeons. Now into a major environmental and heritage learning center showcasing natural heritage of Bohol in flora, fauna and geological formations, RSPL opens its grounds anew for camping, hiking, bird-watching and environment learning with the community managing the venture.

With forest protection and management gaining global support due to its major roles as watersheds and lifeline system, the government has once proposed a debt equity program for the environment. The community drafted the RSPL changes. The park now adopts the international ethical standards of eco-tourism facilities. It subtly says, “leave no trace”.

Part of the camp rules include planning ahead, traveling and camping on durable surfaces, properly disposing of garbage, minimizing campfire impacts, leaving behind and respecting wildlife and considering other camp visitors. With P1.5M for the park and another estimated P3M in the succeeding calendar years, SWCF's Granert hopes the people who are now training to manage the camp would be able to make a few more for their livelihood. (rachiu/PIA)


The Bohol Sunday Post, copyright 2006, All Rights Reserved
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