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To Burn or not to Burn: Making the Burning of Chocolate Hills of Bohol, Philippines Carbon Neutral


  • Nathaniel T. Bantayan

    () (College of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of The Philippines, Los Banos)

  • Margaret M Calderon

    () (College of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of The Philippines, Los Banos)

  • Flocencia B. Pulhin

    (College of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of The Philippines, Los Banos)

  • Canesio D. Predo

    () (University of the Philippines Los Banos, Philippines)

  • Rose Ann C. Baruga

    (College of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of The Philippines, Los Banos)


This study was conducted to evaluate the current management regime of burning vis-à-vis burning with carbon offsets for the Chocolate Hills Natural Monument (CHNM) in Bohol, Philippines. The current scheme of burning to maintain the grass-covered (tree-less) and brown hills to sustain tourist arrivals is seen as environmentally unsound and inconsistent with existing environmental laws. The study estimated the carbon loss from burning and compared the carbon loss value with the tourism income of the Chocolate Hills under the status quo with the end view of evaluating a carbon offset project as an alternative management scheme. A comparison of the benefits and costs of the status quo and the proposed management regime was conducted. Based on these assessments, policy recommendations were drawn up for consideration by the CHNM management. Historically, the hills of CHNM were burned for the grazing of animals. This made the hills’ landscape visually appealing and consequently attractive to tourists. However, when it was declared as a protected area (PA), burning of the hills was discouraged. Tree species, mostly indigenous, were allowed to grow in the hills characteristic of natural regeneration. This resulted to the loss of the unique hill landscape preferred by tourists. Such situation created a divide between the tourism office and the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB). The tourism office, managed by the local government of Carmen, wanted to maintain the hills bare for tourism, while the PAMB of CHNM is mandated to ensure compliance to environmental laws such as the ban on burning. This study evaluated the establishment of a carbon offset project to make up for the carbon loss if a certain number of hills were burned to maintain their tourism value. The vegetation and biomass analysis and the carbon study showed that an estimated 153 ha of forest should be established to offset the carbon emission due to the clearing of such hills. This means that the carbon offset project will require the establishment of one hectare of forest for every two hills cleared. The cost of forestation could be supported by income from tourism in a form and manner that directly involve the community. The study found that the present value of tourism income was very much higher than the cost of carbon emission due to burning. The study recommends that the PAMB consider establishing a carbon offset project to make the current management practice carbon neutral.

Suggested Citation

  • Nathaniel T. Bantayan & Margaret M Calderon & Flocencia B. Pulhin & Canesio D. Predo & Rose Ann C. Baruga, 2013. "To Burn or not to Burn: Making the Burning of Chocolate Hills of Bohol, Philippines Carbon Neutral," EEPSEA Research Report rr2013024, Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA), revised Feb 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:eep:report:rr2013024

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