Republic of the Philippines
(R.A. 7611)
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan



The Palawan Council For Sustainable Development, virtue of the powers vested in it by Republic Act 7611 and other pertinent laws, rules and regulations, RESOLVED to adopt, as it hereby adopts, the following guidelines in implementing the Environmentally Critical Areas Network (ECAN), the main strategy of the Strategic Environmental Plan SEP for Palawan.


Section 1. Title. These guidelines shall be known and cited as The Guidelines in Implementing the Environmentally Critical Areas Network (ECAN). The Main Strategy of the SEP.

Section 2. Purpose. Pursuant to Republic Act 7611 and with reference to Rule III of The Rules and Regulations Implementing the SEP for Palawan Act, these guidelines shall prescribe the processes, criteria and methodologies in implementing the ECAN. Further, these guidelines shall set the functional relationships between and among the Council, the Palawan Council For Sustainable Development Staff, to be known as the Council Staff, the Local Government Units, other agencies and organizations and concerned members of the community.

Section 3. Scope of Applicant. These guidelines shall apply in the implementation of ECAN and shall serve as guide for the local government, and private entities concerned in formulating and implementing plans, programs and projects including business affecting Palawan, whether or not physically located or operating in the said Province.

Section 4. Definition of Terms. As used in these guidelines, the following terms are define as follows:

  1. Terrestrial – the component of ECAN which consist of the mountainous as well as ecologically important low hills and lowland areas of the whole province.
  2. Terrestrial area of maximum protection or core zone – the zone which shall be fully and strictly protected and maintained free of human disruption in the terrestrial area.
  3. Buffer zone – which permits regulated use and acts as the protective barrier to the terrestrial core zone.
  4. Restricted use area – part of the buffer zone, generally surrounding the terrestrial core zone and allows limited and con-consumptive activities
  5. Controlled use area – part of the buffer zone, encircles and provides outer barrier to the terrestrial core zone and restricted use areas and allows controlled forest extraction, like the collection of minor forest products and strictly controlled logging and mining.
  6. Traditional use area – part of the buffer zone consisting of edges of intact forests where traditional land use id already stabilized or id being stabilized.
  7. Terrestrial Multiple/manipulative use zone – this is the area where the landscape has been modified for different forms of land use as intensive timber extraction, grazing and pastures, agriculture and infrastructure development.
  8. Coastal/Marine zone – the component of ECAN which includes the whole coastline up to the open sea. The coastline may include beaches, mouths of rivers, mangroves and mangrove-associated areas usually extending from the highest water mark to the lowest water mark. The open sea shall cover the municipal waters as defined in the Local Government Code )item r,Sec. 131, Ch.1, Book II) extending to the 100 fathom edge of the continental shelf of the farthest island or islet of the province of Palawan, including all structure, natural or man-made, found therein.
  9. Coastal Core zone – the coastal zone which be free from any human activity and will include sanctuaries for rare and endangered species, selected coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove ecosystem reserves and protected small islands.
  10. Coastal Multiple Use Area – the coastal zone where compatible resource use and other human activities that are not destructive can be undertaken.
  11. Tribal Ancestral Lands – the component ECAN which consists of areas traditionally occupied by cultural communities and may comprise both land and sea.
  12. Ecanization – the process of delineating and marking the boundaries of the different zones in both land and sea the identification of prescribed activities and resource use for each zone together with the enforcement of regulatory measures to prevent practices that are destructive of the environment.


Section 5. Adoption of Criteria. There is hereby adopted the Criteria to Delineate the ECAN Zones, as hereinafter provided. However, such set of Criteria is subject to revision upon acquisition of new knowledge relative to ecological relationship.

Section 6. Mapping . Preliminary mapping to delineate the ECAN zones shall be done by the Council Staff and other agencies concerned to provide visualization to the policy makers, those affected and the general public on the effect of such criteria. Such map shall be verified and validated on the ground to come up with the ECAN of 1:5000 scale to be passed and declared by the Council.

Section 7. Conflict Resolution. There shall be a conflict resolution/consultation process, which is hereinafter provided, in cases where there are oppositions to the mapping of boundaries of the different zones by those who have earlier claims to the area. This shall likewise apply in the identification of activities allowable in each zone.

Section 8. Declaration of ECAN Zoning Plan. The Council shall declare the ECAN Zoning Plan defining therein the boundaries with technical descriptions and the allowable activities in each of the zones The ECAN Zoning Plan may be province-wide, area-specific, or criterion-specific depending upon the availability of data and other resources required. Provided, however, that said ECAN Zoning Plan shall be subject to progressive review and update following the same process as stated in Sections 5 to 7 of this guidelines.

Section 9. Boundary Delineation . Upon approval of the ECAN map, field delineation which involves surveying and planting or marking of visible boundaries shall take place. This shall be undertaken by the Local Government Units in their respective areas of concern in coordination and consultation with the Community Environment and Natural Resources office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Provincial Government, the Council Staff, other organizations and concerned members of the community.

Section 10. Enforcement of the ECAN Zoning Plan. The enforcement of the ECAN Zoning Plan which may include policy formulation, legislation, setting up of permitting system, monitoring and other related activities, as hereinafter provided, shall be the joint responsibility of the Local Government Units and the Council Staff.

Section 11. Environmental Monitoring and Evaluation. The Council Staff shall establish and operationalize the Environmental Monitoring and Evaluation System (EMES) to provide periodic review and assessment of the environment which shall be used as based to check the efficacy and possible defects of the ECAN Zoning Plan in meeting it overall objective of protecting and enhancing the ecological system in the province while at the time supporting development.

Section 12. Environmental Research. The Council Staff shall organize a network of research organizations or a scientific committee to facilitate the conduct of studies by which implementation of ECAN shall be improved.

Section 13. Resource Management and Planning. The Council Staff in coordination with the Local Government Units shall undertake resource management planning for the coastal resources, resources of the catchment areas, timber and mines, development of the lowlands, settlement areas (including urban and industrial), and tourism development.

Section 14. Environmental Education and Extension. The Council Staff in coordination with other agencies and organizations shall undertake vigorous environmental education and extension service to instill full understanding and cooperation among the populace in the implementation of ECAN.


The areas covered by ECAN include three component: Terrestrial, Coastal/Marine and Tribal Ancestral Lands. The criteria in delineating the ECAN Zones in these three components are as follows:

Section 15. Criteria in Zoning the Terrestrial component:

(1) The following, by order of priority, shall constitute the maximum protection areas or Core Zone.

    1. Areas above 1000 meters elevation


    1. Virgin forest or first growth forest


    1. Areas with steep gradient, above 50% slope


    1. Peak of mountains with elevation greater that 500 meters above sea level and covering 500 meters horizontal distance from the epicenter


    1. Endangered habitats and habitat of endangered species


    1. Residual forests having less than 60 cubic meter per hectare harvestable volume


  1. Other areas which the Council will identify

(2) The following shall constitute the Buffer Zone:

(a) Restricted Use:

      1. Areas with elevation ranging 500-1000 meters


      1. Areas with slope ranging 36%-50%


      1. Habitat of wildlife species


      1. Critical watersheds


      1. In areas where criteria #1 does not apply, a 10 km belt surrounding the Core Zone is applied.


    1. Poor, stunted and spares stands of semi-regeneration


  1. Lower altitude limit can be lowered to a base of 300 meters to protect the remaining forested peaks of watersheds adjacent to estuaries, lake, rivers and watersheds for major irrigation, water supply and min-hydro projects.

(b) Controlled Use:

    1. Areas with elevation ranging 100-500 meters


    1. Areas with slope ranging 19%-35%


    1. Lower altitude limit can go up to 300 meters if it would not cause negative ecological impacts, but the high altitude limit small exceed 500 meters.


  1. In areas where there is a community within or immediately adjacent to a restricted use area, a controlled use zone could be delineated from the restricted use are for the use of the community.

(c) Traditional use:

    1. Areas above 16% slope but below 100 meters elevation subjected earlier to deforestation but are already stabilized or suitable to stable upland farming system


    1. Edges of intact forests where traditional land use is already stabilized or is being stabilized.


    1. Open, brush land or grassland areas that are still classified as timberland or public land.


  1. Timberland or public land with elevation below 100 meters.

(3) The following shall constitute the Terrestrial Multiple/Manipulate Use Area:

  1. Areas classified as Alienable and Disposable
  2. Areas with slope 16% and below

Section 16. Criteria in Zoning the Coastal/Marine component:

(a) The following shall constitute the coastal core zone:

    1. Coral reefs with relatively intact resources, fair to excellent coral condition or 25%-100% coral cover


    1. Coral line sites containing all coral genera found in the management Unit.


    1. Mangrove areas bordering waterways and extending 20 meters from riverbank and 50 meters from above.


    1. Mangrove areas in small islands


    1. Mangrove areas of old growth stand and reproductive brush.


    1. Mangrove areas containing all the species found in the management unit.


    1. Seagrass beds bordering core zone for mangroves and corals


    1. Seagrass beds with at least 50% cover of macrophytes


  1. Seagrass beds with sightings of Dugong

(b) The Coastal Multiple Use Area shall cover all coastal/marine areas not classified as coastal core zone.

Section 17. Criteria in Zoning the Tribal Ancestral Lands: As stated in Section 12 of The Rules and Regulations Implementing the SEP for Palawan Act, Tribal Ancestral Lands are areas traditionally occupied by cultural minorities, comprise both land and sea areas identified in consultation with tribal communities concerned and the appropriated agencies of government. These shall be treated in the same graded system of control and prohibition as in the others abovementioned except for stronger emphasis in cultural consideration. The Council shall devise a special kind of zonation that will consider the material and cultural needs of the tribes using consultative processes and cultural mapping of ancestral lands.


In consonance with the SEP philosophy, Sec. 5, Chapter II of Republic Act 7611, activities that may be allowed in each of the ECAN Zones shall be in support of sustainable development which is the improvement in the quality of life of the people in the present and future generations through the use of complementary activities of development and conservation that protect life-support ecosystems and rehabilitate exploited areas to allow upcoming generations to sustain developmental growth. This general philosophy is by: (1) Ecological Viability – The physical and biological cycles that maintain the productivity of natural ecosystems must always be kept. Intact; (2) Social Acceptability – The people themselves, through participatory processes, should be fully committed to support sustainable development activities by fostering equity in access to resources and the benefits derived from them; and (3) Integrated Approach – This allows for holistic view of problems and issues obtaining in the environment as well as opportunities for coordination and sharing that will eventually provide the resources and political. Will to actually implement and sustain activities.

In more practical terms, activities that may be allowed in such ECAN Zone shall be according tot hose explicitly state in the law and those specific to a certain locality or management unit which shall be the subject of local decision processes and the EIA system.

Section 18. Activities allowed by R.A 7611. In the law activities allowed in each of the ECAN Zone are as follows:

(a) Maximum Protection Area or Core Zone for both Terrestrial and Marine Components shall be fully and strictly protected and maintained free of human disruption. Exceptions, however, may be granted to traditional uses of tribal communities of these areas for minimal and soft impact gathering of forest species for ceremonial and religious purposes.

(b) Buffer Zone for the Terrestrial Component:

    1. Restricted Use Area: Limited and non-consumptive activities which shall include but not limited to gathering or wild honey, almaciga tapping, soft-impact recreational activities (i.e hiking, sight-seeing, bird watching) and research.


    1. Controlled Use Area: Controlled forest extraction, like collecting of minor forest products and strictly controlled logging and mining.


  1. Traditional Use Area: Management and control shall be carried out with the other supporting programs of the SEP which may include, but not limited to, Upland Stabilization Program (USP), Catchment Management, Hillside Farming Reforestation, Integrated Social Forestry (ISF), Industrial Tree Plantation (ITP) and Community-Based Forest Management.

(c) Multiple/Manipulative Use Area for both Terrestrial and Coastal/Marine components: Management and control shall be strictly integrated with the other supporting programs of the SEP and shall be in accordance with a land use plan endorsed by the local governance and community concerned for the PCSD’s approval. Uses that may be allowed include, but not limited to, timber extraction with community-based management, grazing and pastures, agriculture, infrastructure and industrial development, mariculture, recreation, rehabilitation of small islands and mangrove ecosystem, education and research and active fisheries development.

(d) Tribal Ancestral Lands: This component which may transcend all zones will allow activities on the bases of the material and cultural needs of the tribes using consultative processes and cultural mapping.

Section 19. Special Areas of Concern. Special criteria and guidelines for the treatment of (a) declared Public Parks and Recreational Areas, (b) critical watersheds, (c) protected areas under the NIPAS Law, (d) tourism areas identified in the Palawan Tourism Master Plan, and (e) identified areas for environmental and ecological research, education and training shall be formulated to identify activities in these areas.


Section 20. Formulation and Adoption of Criteria. The formulation of criteria in delineating the ECAN Zones shall involve the identification of parameters characterizing the physical (i.e. elevation slope, landforms), socio-anthrophological (i.e. ancestral lands, traditional practices or customs) and environmental (i.e. habitat, ecosystem, vegetative cover) conditions. These parameters shall be qualified and quantified to determine the extent of coverage that would support the rationale use for each zone. Such criteria shall be presented to the Council for approval upon the endorsement of the Council Staff.

Section 21. Modification of Criteria. Modification or amendment regarding an approved criteria or guidelines can be initiated by any concerned group: government, non-government of private in natures. Such move for modification or amendment shall be submitted to the Council Staff for review and to the Council for approval. It should be supported by official documents, to include be supported by official documents, to include: a) resolution by the concerned Sangguniang Bayan/Panglungsod b) map of 1:50000 scale with technical descriptions, c) rationale and objectives for the proposed modification.

Section 22. Preparation and Declaration of the ECAN Zoning Plan. The ECAN Zoning Plan shall be prepared by a planning team to be organized in each municipality/city. The team shall be composed if the Planning and Development Coordinator and the Municipal Environment Officer in their respective local government units, the CENRO of the DENR, the corresponding District Manager of the PCSD, and representatives from the private community.

The ECAN Zoning Plan shall include among others the following basic content:

    1. Description of the Area


    1. Goals Objectives


    1. Zoning strategy (priorities, methodologies for marking zone boundaries)


    1. Zone Management (activities, regulatory measures policy directions)


    1. Administration


    1. Monitoring and Evaluation


  1. Annexes (maps and references)

Draft of the Plan shall presented for public hearing in the respective locality before final endorsement by the Sangguniang Bayan/Panglunsod and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for the approval of the Council upon the endorsement of the Council Staff.

Section 23. Conflict Resolution. Conflict resolution process is hereby provided to settle issues arising from the setting of boundaries and the identification of allowable activities for each zone.

Conflict resolution shall initially involve consultation. All parties concerned are brought together settle the conflict.

If the conflict is not resolved by the initial step, negotiation which shall involve payoffs for affected parties shall be resorted to.

If the conflict is still not resolved, the judicial process shall be the final recourse.

Conflict resolution proceeding shall be initiated and facilitated by a joint body composed of representative from the Local Government Units, the concerned line agency.

Section 24. Enforcement of the ECAN Zoning Plan. The ECAN Zoning Plan shall serve as the general physical plan of every municipality. It shall be the basic of other planning activities such as land use planning, tourism master planning and resource management planning as a whole.


Section 25. Administrative Authority. Section 16 of Republic Act 7611 or the SEP Act created the Council to exercise the governance, implementation and policy direction of the SEP, and consequently the ECAN as provided for in Section 7 of the Act. In Section 20 of the same Act, the Council Staff id further provided to serve as the regular support staff of the Council and to be the machinery to coordinate the policy and functions, implement programs, and organize such services as may be required by the Council in the exercise of its functions.

Section 26. Coordination with the Local Government Units. In Section 19 of the SEP Act, it is provided as one of the powers and functions of the Council that to ensure alignment of plans, programs and policies to the SEP, governments. In the implementation of ECAN, this coordination shall specifically mean that there shall be a merging of functions between the Council and the heads of local governments through their representation in the Council.

Section 27. Functions and Responsibilities. The functions and responsibilities of the Council the Council Staff and the Local Government Units shall be as follows:

The Council shall approve policy guidelines to include criteria in delineating the ECAN zones, processes and program of work to implement ECAN. It shall likewise initiate sourcing of funds for major activities and the establishment of linkages with national and provincial agencies/entities for joint undertakings.

The Council Staff shall develop the policy guidelines to be approved by the Council, work with the local government units, line agencies and other concerned group or members of the community in implementing the approved program for the implementation of ECAN, operationalize the ECAN assistance desk to facilitate the flow of activities, documents and decision-making processes related tot e efficient and effective implementation of the ECAN, organize the ECAN assistance desk Planning Team in every municipality, monitor and evaluate the environmental conditions in the light of ECAN targets and objectives, conduct research to enhance the establishment of ECAN, conduct information and education programs to develop local capability and administer funds appropriated for the ECAN activities.

The Local Government Units shall at their respective levels initiate passage of resolutions, provincial/municipality/city ordinances and regulatory measures to enforce ECAN as provided by the Council. Their representatives to the Council, the Governor, the City Mayor, the President of the Mayors League, and the President of the Provincial Chapter of the Liga ng Mga Barangay shall serve as the direct link to ensure alignment of plans and actions. The Local Government Units shall likewise harness the participation of line agencies, non-government organizations and the implementation of ECAN. The ECAN assistance desk and planning team shall serves as the technical support of the local government units.


Section 28. Amendment. These guidelines may be amended wholly or in part by the Council through public notification.

Section 29. Repealing Clause. These guidelines shall supercede all Rules and Regulations and Resolutions inconsistent herewith.

Section 30. Effectivity. These guidelines shall take effect immediately upon approval.

APPROVED AND ADOPTED this 18th day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and ninety-four in the City of Puerto Princesa, Philippines.

Executive Director and Secretary,




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