DENR urges the public to protect wetland areas in C. Luzon

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga --- Official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here urges the public to protect and conserve wetland areas in the region as important migratory sites and habitat of migratory birds that frequent the country from the month of October to March.

Francisco Milla, Jr., regional director of DENR in Central Luzon said wetlands are critical parts of the natural environment and ecological system, and home to migratory birds, including Angat Dam in Bulacan, Pantabangan and Paitan Lake in Nueva Ecija, Puerto Rivas in Bataan, Uacon Lake in Zambales, Canarem Lake in Tarlac and Candaba Swamp in Pampanga.

“Wetlands provide countless ecosystem services and benefits to humanity, ranging from freshwater supply, food, biodiversity, and serve as flood control, groundwater recharge, and for climate change mitigation,” he explained.

He said migratory birds as far as China, Korean, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are frequent visitors of the region’s rich wetland areas particularly the 32,000-hectare Candaba swamp as a wintering refuge, feeding and breeding area to escape cold climate.

“Candaba Swamp has been identified as one of the three “most important wetlands” in the Philippines and has consistently been listed in the Asian Bird Map as an essential wintering area for migratory birds,” he pointed out.

In the recent Asian Water Birds Census conducted last month, DENR conservation experts deployed in the Candaba swamp and in Puerto Rivas wetland in Balanga City reported to have sighted some 14,000 migratory birds, mostly belonging to the families of grebes, herons and egrets, rails, gallinules, coots, fin foot, jacanas, shorebirds-waders, gulls, terns, skimmers, king fisher, sparrow, and other water birds.

As this developed, Milla appealed to the public to be more vigilant in protecting wetland areas in the region, saying that wetlands are vital for human survival and are among the world’s most productive environment.

He said various offices of the DENR in the region have embarked on a massive information campaign and cleanup activities to raise the awareness of the public on the importance and value of wetlands and migratory birds.

World Wetland Day (WWD) is celebrated every February, marking the date of adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971. The convention was named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where it was adopted.

The first WWD was first celebrated in 1997 to raise awareness about the value of wetlands for humanity and the planet, and has grown remarkably since then. In 2016, WWD was celebrated in at least 59 countries.

This year’s theme is “Wetlands for Sustainable Urban Future – Making Urban Cities Livable” underscores the importance of wetland area to achieve a sustainable and livable future for the present and future generation.”

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Environment officials urge the public to protect wetlands

Environment officials here urged the public to protect and save wetlands, particularly the 32,000-hectare Candaba Swamp in Pampanga, as the population and number of species of migratory birds seen in the area continue to decline.

Minerva Martinez, conservation and development chief of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office said that last year population of migratory birds was only numbered to 1,439 with 30 species based on the Asian Water Bird’s Census conducted by the DENR.

“This number was the lowest recorded rate since 2009. The prolonged dry seasons may have affected the Candaba swamp resulting to low food supply which also eventually affected the water birds that depend on this habitat for sustenance,” she explained.

She said that climate change and land conversion may have affected the ecosystem functioning of this wetland and considered as a continuing threat to our water birds.   


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