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Environment Magazine September/October 2008

November 2007

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Place-Based Conservation: Lessons from the Turtle Islands

In the early 1980s, a team of Philippine conservationists armed with little more than a flashlight crafted a program to conserve marine turtle eggs, which were being harvested in the Philippines’ Turtle Islands and sold as a delicacy. The rate of eggs conserved on the islands, which are home to several endangered turtle species, gradually rose from 50 percent before the program was implemented to about 80 percent in the late 1990s. In 2000, the makeshift program was superceded by the national Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, which completely banned the collection and sale of marine turtle eggs in the Turtle Islands. The rate of egg conservation took an alarming drop in the year immediately following enactment, and by 2003, it was estimated that only about 40 percent of the eggs were being conserved. How is it that the team of conservationists, largely lacking resources and authority, put together a program that was more effective than the national conservation program that followed?

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