Pangatalan is located North-East of the Palawan archipelago, Philippines (1,200 islands). This 5-hectare island is partially surrounded by mangroves (2 ha), and completely surrounded by fringing coral reefs.
Since 2011, Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation (SEF) owns the island and implements a sustainable development project that promotes eco-tourism and the restoration of ecosystems.
Pangatalan is located close to the archipelago main island Palawan, in the Shark Fin Bay. This Sulu Sea island is known for its rich marine biodiversity, at the centre of the Coral Triangle. The island is composed of a wild, natural vegetal belt, as well as a maintained area in the centre part.
The highest peak is 27m above sea level. There are two sand beaches: one in the North, the other in the South. Pangatalan is surrounded by a thick mangrove barrier on its West coast and by a thinner one on the East coast. There is no drinkable water source on the island.
The island’s socio-cultural context is rather simple because the territory has never been inhabited by more than one family at a time. It is however possible that merchants temporarily stayed on the island, considering its position on one of the oldest Chinese trade route, and its location near a sea shelter.
Historically, before the modern colonisation of the Palawan region, indigenous people commonly used the islands as funeral sites.
Pangatalan is located in a remote region where state services and job opportunities are poor, if not totally absent. The Pangatalan Island project therefore constitutes an employment pole and income source for the neighboring populations. 98% of the employees come from the closest villages, providing major local economic benefits.
The island’s sustainability projects financially rely on eco-tourism. A villa with a swimming pool is available for tourists during part of the year. It is very well integrated in the landscape, and decorated with local materials. This renting period generates the funds that are necessary for the island’s and project’s annual functioning.
Before it was acquired by the Foundation, the island was already the private property of one single inhabitant. This modest keeper exploited the island resources and its reefs to improve his precarious situation. This single exploitation was enough to cause vast damage: deforestation, mangrove cutting for coal production, sand sale from the South beach, intensive and destructive fishing activities in the reef (dynamite, fish traps, cyanide). None of the waste produced on the island was evacuated (bottles, batteries, plastics, etc.).
Until 2016, Sulubaaï Foundation focused on cleaning the island, replanting trees, and fighting against soil erosion caused by the rains.
Since 2016, Sulubaaï added a marine dimension to the protection and restoration of the island’s ecosystems: in a partnership with the local municipality, it implemented a protected marine area.
The area is now defined as a fishing reserve where activities of mangrove replanting and reef restoration are taking place.
The major challenges for Pantagalan are to:
Restore the ecosystems, especially in marine settings because the constraints are more important (time, costs, achievement)
Complete the implementation of the sustainable development system, in particular the achievement of the island’s economic model (renting), but also the development of educational actions for the local and regional populations.
Maximise the project acceptance and its values by the local populations and authorities in order to promote its efficiency, longevity and use as a model for another site.