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.   

DENR records showed a decreasing number of species among migratory birds, from 64 species recorded in 2016, which is also the highest recorded at Dona Simang village, the number declined to 42 in 2017, 30 in 2018 and 16 this year.

Last weekend visit to Candaba swamp in celebration of World Wetland s Day by the team of environment officials, personnel and media practitioners, a decrease in the number and species was noted, with the DENR team observing mostly egrets and herons in the area.

According to Paquito Moreno, executive director of DENR in Central Luzon, this pose another challenge to the protection and conservation efforts of the DENR.

“Candaba swamp is an important wetland area in the country. It supports an average of 7,000 migratory bird every year coming from as far as Siberia, Japan, China and New Zealand to seek wintering refuge, feeding and breeding area from October to March,” he said.

He appealed to the local community and local government units (LGU) to help the DENR in the protection of migratory birds and their habitat.

“Candaba swamp is not only an important habitat and potential eco-tourism area that draws attention of local and foreign tourist and bird watchers from across the globe, it also acts as a natural sewerage treatment plant (STP), as it filters toxic chemicals coming from the upstream water of the Pampanga river before it drains to Manila Bay,” he said.

Other important wetlands sites in Central Luzon identified by the DENR for protection are the Angat Dam in Bulacan; Nabao Lake, Pantabangan Dam and Paitan Lake in Nueva Ecija; Puerto Rivas in Bataan; Uacon Lake, Malimanga Lake, Alindayat Lake, Mount Pinatubo Crater Lake, Mapanupe Lake, Gogo Lake, and Look Lake in Zambales; and Canarem Lake, and Ladiaonan Lake in Tarlac.

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DENR, JICA open P23-M access road to boost livelihood, agroforestry in Nueva Ecija

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) recently opened a 3.7-km access road in Conversion village in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija that will ease in the transportation of products of upland farmers coming from their agroforestry farm and help increase economic productivity, environment official said.

Paquito Moreno, Jr., executive director of the DENR in Central Luzon, said the P23-million worth access road was funded by JICA as an “agroforestry support facility” in the 10-year Forestland Management Project (FMP) in Pantabangan-Carranglan watershed, which will boost the livelihood of some 350 upland farmers and their families managing about 14,000 hectares of agroforestry and forest plantations.

“Our upland farmers can now easily bring their products like mango, cashew, cacao and coffee to the nearby market in the town using this access road. This will serve as a channel to increase local trade and productivity, since it connects farm areas to market towns,” he explained.

He said transportation cost will be reduced and post-harvest losses of local farmers will also be minimized, since the newly newly-opened access road will ensure easier access to social services such as health and education.

Citing the significance of forging alliance towards community welfare, Moreno thanked the JICA for supporting the project aimed at the development, conservation, protection and sustainable use of forest resources.

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