- 9th Caving Congress: Tourism in ties with Cave Conservation
- 11.05.2009 - 15.05.2009
- Tacloban and Basey, Samar -
“Can tourism go hand in hand with conservation?” This question marks the 9th Caving Congress following the theme “Finding the Balance between Conservation and Tourism”. A total of more than 250 caving enthusiasts from all over the Philippines and other parts of the world converged in Tacloban and Basey, Samar for the one-week caving congress held from May 11-15, 2009.
The event was conducted in the island of Samar, home of the largest cave and largest karst formation in the Philippines. The venue, indeed, was appropriate as Samar houses the Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park and Calbiga Cave. The Sohoton Cave is filled with limestone boulders, rock holes, weathered formation rocks, underground rivers and cathedral-like caves, which it is famous for. Calbiga Cave, the second largest cave in South East Asia, is also found in Samar.
The Caving Congress was initiated by the Philippine Speleological Society (PSS) in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Tourism (DOT), Philippine Cave Guides Association (PCGA) and the Municipality of Basey, Samar. PSS is an umbrella organization of various caving organizations that was established to promote cave exploration and conservation in the country.
This year’s Congress aims to focus on enhancing the capability of the participants for the safe conduct of thorough cave assessment and policy recommendations for a more streamlined and dynamic cave management program. The Congress also aims to further increase awareness on the Cave Act and its support policies and to chart ways for the full implementation of the RA 9072. Also, the Congress has been very essential in capacitating key staffs of DENR in promoting partnership building on the sustainable use and protection of our caves and cave systems.
Moreover, the caving congress enabled the sharing of skills, knowledge and expertise among member groups; sharing of experiences in partnering with LGUs, NGOs, and PAMBs in cave conservation and developing and managing of caves; discussion of relevant issues and management discussions with PAWB.
Individuals from various field of expertise were included as panelists and speakers in the Caving Congress. Included are Prof. Elery Hamilton Smith from Australia, Chairman of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the World Commission on Protected Areas; Dave Smith, Biodiversity Program Manager, New Zealand’s Department of Conservation; Sec. Ace Durano of the Department of Tourism; and Pete Chandlier, owner of one of the most successful cave tourism destination in New Zealand.
Caving Congress was able to establish partnership with PAWB; broaden approaches in cave conservation; ensure constant participation in provincial development programs; and strengthen partnerships with LGU’s in the conservation and management in cave eco-tourism development. Basey Resolution was drafted in the Congress and also action plans and budget for cave assessment
Participants of the Caving Congress include Conservation and Restoration Exercise, Inc., Davao Speleological and Conservation Society, Inc., Department of the Environment and Natural Resources Representatives, Department of Tourism Representatives, Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Inc., Gaia Exploration Club, Local Government Unit representatives from Basey, Samar; Kapalong, Davao del Norte; Sta. Cruz, Marinduque; Hinabangan, Samar; Guiuan, Eastern Samar; Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat; Mabinay, Negros Oriental, National Museum representative, Nature Unlimited, Leyte Outdoor Club, Inc., Oriental Negros Exploration, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff, Philippine Cave Guides Association, Inc., Philippine Speleological Society, Inc., Sarangani Bay Area Outdoor Club, Speleo Cebu, Speleo Davao, Speleo Mindanao, Western Visayas Caving Association and also other caving organizations in other parts of the world.
- Tacloban and Basey, Samar
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