Saturday, July 14, 2012

Carrying Capacity Discussion Points

Discussion on Carrying Capacity conducted at the UP AIT Seminar Room 

Broadly, the host and moderator Prof. Caloy Libosada Jr. established the definition of carrying capacity as the limits (initially) on the number of people conducting activity without adverse impact on the installation and maintaining it for the succeeding generations of host communities and visitors.

Discussion points contributed by guests were leading to parameters that can define to the limiting factors of carrying capacity in different types of locations.

It can be physical, desired visitor’s experience, limited logistical and infrastructure supports, threats to ecological system, threats to safety, needs of the community, capability of the ecological system to recover from adverse conditions, stakeholders’ agenda including politics and commercial outfitters.

Attendees from various interest groups (mainly outdoors) provided samples of actual carrying capacity limits from their experiences as practical references:
  1. Mt. Kanlaon’s standard of number of people in a group (arbitrarily set at 8 by the guides with no scientific basis)
  2. Palawan’s underground river’s maximum limit of 780 visitors a day due to the size constraints of the cave opening (which caused a backlog of waiting visitors at the airport and other installations)
  3. Mt. Pulag’s 200 trekkers limit per day which can be expanded situationally
  4. Several others which I have missed out
 Example of degradation that happened if limits are not defined and controlled:
  1. Dwarf bamboo of Mt. Pulag increasing in height due to the food left behind for the plants’ nutrition
  2. Possible decline of Pulag’s cloud rat due to the widening of the trail which prevents the specie to cross path (hypothetical)
  3. Disappearances of species
  4. Migrations
Initially, numbers define limits but eventually should cover quality and extent of activity done. Parameters can likewise be expanded depending on the priority like culture, noise level, monetary and recovery rate among others. Capacity thus has to be customized initially broadly such as mountains, rivers, seas, caves and eventually to specific locations. Carrying capacity is based on the assumption that all other factors remain constant. If ever there are major influences, calamities, capacity has to be updated and redefined.

It may look as simple as defining how many passengers can ride a plane or an MRT/LRT because of space and weight consideration but is more complex than that if other parameters are considered. Caloy’s vision for this project is to provide a concrete output on the concept of carrying capacity Philippines setting to show it can be done.

There appears to be need for a neutral unit to define and set standards and model backed up by data and a discipline. A working model can be applied to various installations. What can drive the project among others are a consultant who is a subject matter expert on carrying capacity, funding, baseline information and previous studies.

In effect, to realize the output of a carrying capacity study, it will regulate. Prior to that, it must build awareness through education and information drive. Depending on the limiting factors to be protected, interventions can still be put in place. The end in mind is to maintain and preserve and resource for use in a defined time line.

Next step is to hold another discussion with other stakeholders to concretize the initiative. I understand there is a forthcoming workshop where this exercise can be put to test.

13 July 2012
Notes and essay from a workshop upon the invitiation of friends from the climbing community


"Philippine Mountains SUMMIT: A National Policy Forum on Philippine Mountain Environments" held at Mt Makiling at the University of the Philippines Los Baños last 16-17 November 2000 was a resounding success for mountaineering in getting representation from this policy formulating body and in recognizing the value of mountaineering in our common ground, the mountains in the Philippines. The forum organized by the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems headed by Dr. Edwino Fernando aims to develop policy initiatives for the conservation and sustainable development of mountain environments in the Philippines.

The Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines Inc, a national affiliation of mountaineers under the leadership of President Ari Ben Sebastian presented a position to the participants composed mainly of scientists, government officials on what it can to this scientific community:
• That not all climbers are mountaineers
• That this recognized body be allowed to climb
• That we have a responsibility to all those who climb
• That their researches will support our recreational undertaking
• That we can be tapped for environment related projects in this fragile/diverse mountain eco-system
• That we can partner with them in managing our common playground: the mountains.

Foresters, local government units, geologists, DENR, Philvocs, Tourism, mountaineers, PAMB, Bureau of Soils were represented.

Through the MFPI paper on mountaineering as a recreation, other participants sought the possibility of a collaborative drive between technocrats and hobbyists one of which is study on carrying capacities of mountain. Some foresters, geologists, professors expressed interest to enroll in the BMC and to be members.

The MFPI position on vision mission was not any different from the collective position of the conference output, in fact complementary in the aspect of ecological preservation. Our friends from the academe recognize all the time the value of carrying capacity in any undertaking in the mountains, putting importance to the local community. This is almost aligned with the MFPI Vision Mission.

This forum is a potential linkage for advocacy and policy influencing to the DENR and to the government. MFPI has established contacts with various foresters, tourism body and of course PAMB. As we move towards 2002 on the International Year of the Mountains, it will work closely with MCME in initiating a massive, year round mountain clean, if only to impress consciousness to everyone.

Director Raymundo Punongbayan of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology in his astounding presentation made us appreciate the geological source of mountains in the Philippines. But eventually, they will disappear (in million to billion years that is).

For the next forum in Baguio last quarter of the year, MFPI has been requested to present.

Chito Razon, PALMC 18 November 2000

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