One of the reasons we have chosen this island as the destination for our expedition, apart from its relative isolation and raw natural beauty, is that for many years it has had a progressive environmental policy – leading the way for its Southeast Asian neighbours. In 1989 the Aquino government imposed a logging ban which halted the loss of nearly 20,000 hectares of forest a year. This amounted to almost two and a half percent of total forest reserve on these islands, home to a varied diversity of flora and fauna some of which is endemic. Although it took a little time, by the mid 90s there was an end to fire clearance and illegal logging.
Both the authorities and the local people seem to have recognised the mood of the times, and their new awareness of the ecology has preserved the rich natural environment of Palawan. Even people who fish with dynamite and cyanide - usually not locals - are faced with prosecution.
We hope that by being one of the few tour operators to take our groups to Palawan we will encourage others to follow our lead, bringing much needed revenue to the benefit of local communities. We employ local tour operator Pedro Young from Marsman Drysdale, who you may well get to meet. The guides throughout the trip are local to the destinations visited as no one has a better understanding of – or is more passionate about - the wonderful surroundings we explore than the people who live there. Cooks, porters and drivers are also local people and will give you a real insight into Filipino culture and tradition. As with all our tours, we pay all staff a fair (well above the average rate) and prompt wage. We treat every individual equally and with respect and will not make local guides work unreasonable hours and we expect clients to respect and observe this policy.
Palawan produced and supplied produce, such as food and camping equipment, are all purchased locally in order to maximise the benefits to the local people. All clients are encouraged throughout the trip to use local services and buy local souvenirs. Not only will you be benefiting the community you are visiting but you’ll also find some fantastic and unusual items, particularly in the market at Puerto Princessa. The city is renowned for its cleanliness; the locals are enthusiastic about keeping their city clean. Refuse disposal and street cleaning both function immaculately and Puerto has the distinction of winning the Earth Day Award (1993) and the Macliing Dulag Environmental Award (1994).
We want to ensure this trip has a minimal impact on the environment, therefore there will be a maximum of eight team members and the itinerary is a one-off so will not be repeated. When we return to Palawan we shall have a new itinerary ensuring that the financial benefits are spread to different regions of the island.
Our local Madagascan guide is very active with local NGO Wood En Stock (which is actively replanting trees in Madagascar). For every client booked on any Madagascar trips, we finance one tree per day per client with Wood En Stock. We have just received our certificate that in 2010 our trips (many of the through rt.com) funded the planting of 400 trees.
Where possible and practical we will hire local transport, including jeepneys and bancas (outrigger boats), to support the local economy. When camping in the rainforest on our way out to Lake Danao, our trekking support team is sourced from the surrounding villages and there will be ample opportunities to share experiences and have fun together.
You will be issued with instructions as to how you can help to preserve the environment and will given a full briefing by your expedition leader on cultural sensitivities for the local region. We hope that you will follow our advice to help make a difference.
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