PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Dec. 3 - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 4B-MIMAROPA and the city government here will be inaugurating on Tuesday the Puerto Princesa Underground River National Park (PPURNP) as Wetland of International Importance at Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan.
DENR Region 4B-MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Edgardo O. Galeon and Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn will lead the inauguration of the PPURNP as among the wetlands of international importance in the Philippines and in the world for being able to conserve and sustainably utilize the land area of the distinct ecosystem.
The development came following the PPURNPs declaration and listing as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands.
DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, who will be the guest speaker, will also award to Hagedorn, the Sangguniang Panlungsod, and the park management the Ramsar Site Certificate. It will be followed by the unveiling of the PPURNP Ramsar Site Marker.
The PPURNP is the latest site to make it to the list of the Ramsar Site for Wetlands of International Importance.
Paje said the designation of the underground river park as Ramsar Site No. 2084 "officially affirms it as a wetland of international importance.
Aside from the PPURNP, another declared Ramsar Site of Wetland of International Importance is the Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park off the waters of Cagayancillo also in Palawan.
The three other Ramsar sites in the Philippines are the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Santuary in Mindanao; the Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro; and the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu. All five sites make up a total surface area of 154,234 hectares for the Philippines.
As a Wetland of International Importance, the PPURNP will be qualified to receive technical, financial and other forms of assistance for it to be managed better.
The Ramsar Convention website referred to the PPURNP and its 22,202-hectare area as unique in the biographic region because it connects a range of important ecosystems from the mountain-to-the-sea, including a limestone karst landscape with a complex cave system, mangrove forests, lowland evergreen tropical rainforests, and freshwater swamps.
The underground river park serves as a dwelling place for about 800 plant and 233 wildlife species, with many considered threatened and/or endemic.
Among the titles it holds are one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature; a National Geological Monument by the National Committee of Geological Sciences; a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
It was the DENR that nominated the PPUR to the Ramsar Convention in Switzerland in December 2011. The nomination was then presented and defended in the Conventions Meeting of the Conference of Parties in Romania in July 2012.
Accordingly, the Ramsar Convention is a treaty among 163 countries aimed towards the conservation and wise use of wetlands. To date, it has listed 2,062 wetlands of international importance. (PNA)