Category Archives: Environment

Responsible Tourism: Yay or Nay

Travelling to different places is indeed refreshing, invigorating, and relaxing. The old adage tan lines fade but memories last is quite true. Before you find your way to any tourism destinations like Palawan and other places, it is necessary to do a little homework on what does a responsible tourist has to do. It may sound so negative or kill joy but once you set foot on a beach or an island, you don’t just grab any marine resource like a starfish for posterity’s sake. It is saddening to see how people disregard the possible effects of their actions whether positive or negative to the ecosystem.

Few months ago, photos of a group of people were circulating the internet showing each of them holding a starfish. And when someone informed them it is not allowed, these people carelessly tossed the starfishes back to the sea without regard.

Image result for deped teachers in Balabac throwing starfish
Facebook/Zach Villaver

Frustrating. Starfishes are not supposed to be exposed to air as it will damage their vascular system which allows them to move, digest, and breathe. This is an exact example why responsible tourism is necessary. We may never know exactly about the dynamics of ecosystem but we can at least be responsible for our own actions and how we affect not only the people around us but other living organisms as well.

Starfish tossers
Facebook/Zach Villaver

Being aware and informed doesn’t hurt at all. Before you take your swimsuits and take the plunge I suggest going through the internet for a little homework is necessary. Be aware of the basic environmental policies implemented your next tourism destination such as waste disposal, animal protection, conservation initiatives and the like. For basics, I have here a few to take note of.

  1. Practice waste segregation and proper waste disposal.
  2. Refill water bottles at designated stations.
  3. Read signage, flyers, and information sheets.
  4. Attend information dissemination and tourists orientation.
  5. Take nothing but photos. Don’t take little things with you such corals, stones, and etc.
  6. Don’t touch any living organism without knowledge of proper handling.
  7. Don’t stand on corals or touch them as it may cause permanent damage.
  8. Support local vendors and tourism operators.
  9. Do not introduce any foreign food or object to indigenous peoples.

A little homework doesn’t hurt, indeed. Besides, that’s the main point of travelling, to learn about different places and cultures.

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Lichen: Air Quality Bioindicator

 

Today I prepared an exam for my students on environmental monitoring and the coverage of the said exam is about biological indicators or the use of organisms as predictors of alterations or changes in the environment.

There are different kinds of biological monitoring in assessment of the environment. For air quality, lichens are used to predict the changes or the concentrations of pollutants in the atmosphere. A lichen represents a symbiotic relationship between an algae and fungus. They normally appear like green or white patches in the barks of the trees. You have to look closer to notice the branches and leaves of the mini forest.

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Different Kinds of Lichens (Photo from www.decodedscience.org)

The colors and shades of a lichen indicate the concentration of pollutants in the air. There are species sensitive to sulfur dioxide and there are species that can tolerate a certain amount of nitrous oxide. Generally, none of them can tolerate longer exposure to SOx and NOx and it may be difficult to spot a lichen in an urban setting.

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 One of the common lichens found in Sabang,Barangay Cabayugan, Puerto Princesa City

A year ago, I brought my class to Sabang area which serves as the portal to the Underground River National Park. I taught them how to measure and map lichens. The field trip was just to let the students experience first hand how to use biological indicators in the assessment of air quality.

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The students during their field exposure.

Everything about the environment are very interesting and as an instructor, I still learn every time I take my students out in the field.