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DENR-BMB seeking Ramsar certification for southern Negros wetlands

BACOLOD CITY, Nov. 25 — The Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)

IS PUSHING THE ISSUANCE OF A RAMSAR CERTIFICATION FOR THE WETLANDS FROM BAGO CITY TO THE TOWN OF ILOG IN SOUTHERN NEGROS OCCIDENTAL.

IF THE AREA CAN OBTAIN A CERTIFICATION, IT WILL BECOME THE 7TH “WETLANDS OF INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANCE” IN THE PHILIPPINES, SAID DENR-BMB ECCOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST JOY NAVARRO.

RAMSAR, WHICH REFERS TO A PLACE IN IRAN WHERE THE CONVENTION ON WETLANDS WAS FIRST HELD, IS AN INTERGOVERNMENTAL TREATY THAT PROVIDES THE FRAMEWORK FOR NATIONAL ACTION AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION FOR THE CONSERVATION AND WISE USE OF WETLANDS AND THEIR RESOURCES.

THE SIX RAMSAR SITES IN THE COUNTRY ARE AGUSAN MARSH WILDLIFE SANCTUARY IN AGUSAN DEL NORTE; TUBATTAHA REEFS NATURAL PARK IN PALAWAN; PUERTO PRINCESA SUBTERRANEAN RIVER NATURAL PARK IN PALAWAN; OLANGO ISLAN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY IN CEBU; NAUJAN LAKE NATIONAL PARK IN ORIENTAL MINDORO; AND THE LAS PIÑAS-PARAÑAQUE CRITICAL HABITAT AND ECOTOURISM AREA.

WETLANDS IN SOUTHERN NEGROS OCCIDENTAL ARE A REFUGE FOR THOUSANDS OF MIGRATORY BIRDS FROM SIBERIA, CHINA, AND AUSTRALIA EVERY YEAR.

LISA PAGUNTALAN, DIRECTOR FOR FIELD OPERATIONS OF THE PHILIPPINE BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION FOUNDATION INC., SAID THE BAGO-ILOG COASTAL WETLANDS HOST THE MOST NUMBER OF MIGRATORY SHOREBIRDS PASSING THROUGH ITS FLYWAY.

SEVENTY-THREE SPECIES OF MIGRATORY SHOREBIRDS PASS THE AREA EVERY YEAR AND THESE BIRDS STAY WITHIN THESE WETLANDS FOR ABOUT SIX MONTHS BEFORE THEY BACK TO SIBERIA OR CHINA TO BREED, SHE ADDED.

PAGUNTALAN SAID THERE ARE ABOUT 109,000 OF MIGRATORY SHOREBIRDS IN THE BAGO-ILOG COASTAL WETLANDS IN JANUARY ALONE, WAY MORE THAN THOSE IN THE WHOLE OF MANILA BAY.

MEANWHILE, NAVARRO SAID THE BMB NEEDS ENDORSEMENTS FROM THE CONCERNED LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS SO THEY CAN PUSH FOR THE BAGO-ILOG COASTAL WETLANDS TO BECOME A RAMSAR SITE.

THEY ALSO NEED TO PRESENT A MANAGEMENT PLAN AND ACCOMPLISH THE RAMSAR SITE INFORMATION SHEET.

“IN ORDER TO GET THE RAMSAR CERTIFICATION, THE AREA OR SITE MUST BE PROVEN TO BE BIOLOGICALLY IMPORTANT OR UNIQUE IN ITS BIO-GEOGRAPHIC REGION WHICH MEANS IT IS NOT ONLY IMPORTANT TO THE PROVINCE BUT TO THE WHOLE COUNTRY AND ASIA AS WELL,” NAVARRO SAID.

SHE POINTED OUT THAT THE BAGO-ILOG WETLANDS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT IS A FLYWAY OF MIGRATORY BIRDS AND THE ROUTE WILL BE CUT OFF IF THESE HABITATS ARE NOT TAKEN CARED OF.

THE INITIATIVE IS PART OF THE OBSERVANCE OF THE 10TH WILDLIFE MONTH THIS NOVEMBER IN NEGROS OCCIDENTAL. LAP/NLG

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