A STUDY of the University of Mindanao (UM) showed that Dabawenyos have a very low appreciation of the value of the ecosystem.
In Wednesday's (October 3) AFP-PNP media forum at The Royal Mandaya Hotel, UM Assistant Vice President (AVP) for Research and a Biologist Dr. Milton Medina bared that their study entitled, "Contingent Valuation of the Pawikan Sanctuary," showed that Dabawenyos displayed lesser economic value for the marine sanctuary.
The marine turtle sanctuary's total economic value was estimated at P435 after utilizing an economic method used to measure the value of environmental goods.
The study is part of the Urban Biodiversity Project implemented by the University of Mindanao in partnership with San Pedro College (SPC), Central Mindanao University (CMU), Davao Oriental College of Science and Technology (DOCST) with funding support from the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) under the Discovery-Applied Research and Extension (Dare) program.
Medina expressed the importance of public awareness on the value of the ecosystem and not merely the presence of the species.
"The low economic valuation can be due to limited awareness of the public on the roles that plants and animals play in maintaining a balanced ecosystem suitable for the sanctuary of the turtles," Medina said.
By next year, UM research and Publication Center will produce information and education materials to raise awareness in a non-traditional way, thus emphasizing the whole ecosystem.
Meanwhile, Dr. Maria Linda Arquiza, vice-president of the University of Mindanao Research and Publication Center, said the result of the study is alarming given the environmental services the marine sanctuary offer to the hawksbill turtle, many animals, and plant species found in the sanctuary.
"The trouble with a low economic value is it reflects the low appreciation of the marine sanctuary," Arquiza said. "The public has the impression that for as long as there are turtles in the nesting place, they see no need to worry about, that there is nothing to worry about climate change, about pollution."
Arquiza said they aim to increase awareness of the public on the importance and value of the ecosystem.
An environmentalist, meanwhile, attributed this low economic valuation of the Dabawenyos to the pawikans because it is not one of the basic commodities.
"Maybe because we people don't eat pawikan so we think it is not important and its value is less," said Chinkee Pelino-Golle, executive director of Interfacing Development Interventions.
But she said despite that, "we should realize that everything in the environment is connected."
"It has roles to play in order for all of us to continue to survive. As pawikans keep seagrass beds healthy so the sea floor is covered with seagrass. The seagrass is a vital part of the ecosystem, and without it, many marine animals that we humans harvest will be lost," she said.
"Seagrass provide food and shelter for marine animals, stabilizes sea bottoms and maintain water quality," she added.
Golle shared the sentiments of Medina that it could also be the limited public awareness of the importance of pawikan to the coastal and marine ecosystems.
"I think there is a need to enhance public awareness and schools should make sure that students are given enough information and make them part of more marine conservation and protection programs and activities," she said.