Locals move to protect fragile Boracay environment

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EnviroNews Philippines , Boracay, Philippines

Boracay

Boracay has become a very popular destination with almost a million foreign and local tourists arrivals recorded in 2011. The four-kilometer, white-powder sand beach outshines other tropical islands and in fact, dubbed as the “2011 Best Beach in Asia” by travel web site Tripadvisor.

“Over the years, we saw a rapid change in Boracay as it enjoys a lot of economic growth and many growing businesses,” said Dionisio Salme, president of the Boracay Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that represents the business community. “That is why there is a need for better control over developing and safeguarding its fragile environment.”

Dionisio, who is also the president of the BBMP, said that to ensure the sustainability of Boracay as among Asia’s best beaches for many years to come, various environmental activities and awareness programs have been implemented since 2010, including anti-littering and anti-smoking campaigns, water and waste-water management, solid-waste management and coastal management.

“Caring for our environment is part of our business and we are looking for more ways on how to sustain the beauty of our environment,” Salme said.

A significant improvement in the island is the provision of reliable and quality water and efficient wastewater treatment through the P78-million project Boracay Island Water Co. (BIWC) instituted in 2010, said Blanca Eunicia Aldaba, an expert from the BIWC.

Access to potable water has reached 96 percent of households and establishments. The sewage treatment plant has been upgraded to safely treat wastewater before it is released to the sea, Aldaba said.

“This island has long been threatened by dirty water before we came in due to the increasing amounts of sewage discharge in the waters which endangers the corals and the public. But now, we are recovering from that problem due to the upgraded facility we have which is designed to safely treat wastewater,” Aldaba said.

Boracay Island Water Co. is a partnership between the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority and the Manila Water Co. Inc.

Malay, Aklan Mayor John Yap said an increasing number of local businesses, corporate foundations and environmental organizations are coming up with programs seeking to preserve the island’s natural treasures such as its fragile marine and terrestrial environment including its coral reefs.

He said that scientists have expressed alarm that at least 15 percent to 20 percent of the coral reefs in Boracay are left in fragile condition and have recommended the regulation of tourism activities such as snorkeling; management of solid waste and treatment of sewage effluents that could destroy the remaining corals.

Early this year, the BBMP and the Petron Foundation deployed artificial reef domes in water 12-50 feet deep along the island’s beach front, which are made of concrete, calcium-rich material that can help boost coral growth. The domes are also designed to serve as sanctuary for fishes.

Protecting Boracay’s environment is, indeed, everyone’s concern. With its enchanting beauty, the island of Boracay remains as the unbeatable tourist destination in the country and the most recognizable tropical paradise in Asia and one of the top tourist destinations in the world.