The Philippines is home to five out of seven species of sea turtles or pawikan that can be found in the world. Sea turtles play an important role in keeping the oceans healthy by nourishing seagrass beds and coral reefs. However, as human activity increases, sea turtle populations have become endangered.
Guided by their vision of creating better ways to live, AboitizLand, the real estate arm of the Aboitiz Group, believes that nature and its inhabitants must be protected to promote good quality of life for all. The developer, therefore, initiated a Pawikan Conservation Project together with Aboitiz Foundation and UP Diliman Environmental Science experts.
AboitizLand’s Pawikan Conservation Project established a five-year management plan to preserve sea turtle nesting sites located at Seafront Residences—their first residential project outside Visayas.
Located in Barangay Calubcub II in San Juan, Batangas, the beach community is a 43-hectare, 800 unit development and its shoreline is tagged by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as prime nesting grounds for the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles.
“We recognize that the pawikan is vital to the marine ecosystem. Knowing that it is endangered, we are making efforts to preserve the sea turtle population by protecting their nesting sites,” says Rafael de Mesa, AboitizLand’s First Vice President of Operations.
“We will always strive to commit to sustainability. Together with the right facilities, and the collaboration of the local community, we can build new homes while at the same time protect the pawikan’s home too.”
AboitizLand’s Pawikan Conservation Project is geared towards protecting and preserving the Olive Ridley sea turtles through research, proper monitoring, establishment of hatchling facilities, as well as community education drive.
During the first two years of implementation, research and profiling of the Olive Ridley sea turtles and their nesting sites have been completed. Barangay Calubcub II was also categorized into beach zones to identify and evaluate safe sea turtle nesting sites.
If the zone was found to be vulnerable to high-tide flooding and poaching, sea turtle nests would then be relocated to a safer hatching facility. Ideally, sea turtle nests must remain in their origin site as long as risks are minimal.
To ensure safety from predators and human disturbances, nest protectors were placed around the sea turtle nests. As of January 2020, 903 hatchlings were successfully released back into the ocean since the program started.
Together with the local government of the Barangay, a capacity development training was also conducted to engage people residing in nearby towns. Pawikan Beach Patrol participants were oriented to ensure efficient and effective implementation of the program.
The following phase of the project will be rolled out in the next three years, starting this 2020. The following steps will include strategy evaluation and improvement as well as facilities enhancement.
In partnership with Weather Philippines, the program will be more data driven with the use of Automated Weather Station (AWS) as recommended by environmental science consultants. I
nstallation of the AWS at the site will provide the team with relevant information on rainfall, wind speed and direction, air temperature, as well as other physical parameters of the ocean that may affect the sea turtles.
The Pawikan Conservation Project will continue to aim for the preservation of sea turtles in the coming years. Through this initiative, AboitizLand commits to environmentally-sensitive planning while delivering sustainable developments and homes that may be passed onto future generations.