We’re [still] willing to pay to protect our resources
Households in Oroquieta City in the southern Philippines are willing to pay to protect their coast, according to a new study
Results of the research have been published in a paper, co-authored by Dr Rodel Lasco, coordinator of the World Agroforestry Centre Philippines, and a group of researchers from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). The paper looks at the willingness to pay of households in Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental, for conservation coastal biodiversity in Iligan Bay.
Specifically, they evaluatedhouseholds’ knowledge and perceptions of the importance of conserving biodiversity. The researchers also identified factors affecting the householders’ decisions to engage in coastal conservation activities and estimated their willingness to pay for them.
Of the 277 respondents to the researchers survey, 94% were aware of the services provided by the ecosystem of MtMalindang and other nearby ecosystems. Ninety-three percent (93%) were also aware of the importance of mangroves to the community and the environment. The high awareness of households towards their environment and the interconnectivity of ecosystems could be due to a series of climate events that the community had experienced, like floods, typhoons and storm surges.
The respondent households showed a mean willingness to pay of PhP30.39 (±USD 0.68). This would beover and abovetheir current water bill per month. A large group of the respondents (65%) said that incorporating the contribution fees for conservation activities in their water bills would be the best payment scheme. There were some respondents who did not agree to vote for contributing towards conservation activities, mainly due to budget constraints. However, they would agree to contributeif the amount was lowered.
Another study by the Centre and UPLB researchers that looked at Oroquieta City households’ willingness to pay for the conservation of the Layawan Watershedhad similar results. More than 50% of the respondents voted positively to pay around Php 55 (± USD 1.35) per month. As with the other study, the PhP 55 would be an additionto their monthly water bill.
These results are important in the context of high biodiversity in the Philippines, so much so that it is considered one of the few remaining ‘megadiverse’ countries on the planet. Of the 9253 plant species in the country, 6091 (more than 65%) are endemic.
However, it is also a biodiversity ‘hotspot’. This means that the rich biodiversity of the Philippine ecosystems is threatened by ‘increasing human population, resource demand, habitat destruction and unsustainable development’, according to the researchers.
There have been efforts to conserve biodiversity in the country although these will be unsustainable without continuous funding and the involvement of communities.
Payment for ecosystem (or environmental) services (PES) schemes can help ‘promote sustainable financing for continuous biodiversity conservation in an area’, write Dr Lasco and colleagues. PES not only is a source of funds for sustainable conservation of resources but also a scheme to reduce poverty by providing additional sources of income for the communities involved.
In the Philippines, PES is often used in watershed management and conservation. One such example is the Smart Tree-Invest project, which is developing co-investment schemes with farmers, businesses and governments to help the agricultural sector adapt to climate change while at the same time mitigating its impact.
Valuation of ecosystem services, the first step to creating PES schemes, helps identify how much people are willing to pay for biodiversity conservation efforts. These values can then become the basis for fee collections for implementation of PES in an area. The studies in the Philippines show that households are willing and able to pay to conserve the services the environment provides, which bodes well for future sustainability and wellbeing.
This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry