By Marna Dagumboy Del Rosario, Philippine News Agency (Feb 11, 2019)
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office here on Monday called on the public to help protect and save wetlands, particularly the 32,000-hectare Candaba swamp in this province.
Minerva Martinez, chief of conservation and development at the DENR regional office, made the call due to the declining population and number of species of migratory birds seen in the area.
She said the ecosystem at the Candaba swamp may have been affected by climate change and land conversion.
Martinez said based on the Asian Water Bird’s census conducted by the DENR, last year’s population of migratory birds was only 1,439 comprising 30 species.
“This number was the lowest recorded rate since 2009. The prolonged dry seasons may have affected the Candaba swamp, resulting in low food supply which also eventually affected the water birds that depend on this habitat for sustenance,” she said.
DENR records also showed a decreasing number of species among migratory birds. From 64 species recorded in 2016, the number declined to 42 in 2017, 30 in 2018 and 16 this year.
Paquito Moreno, executive director of DENR in Central Luzon, said this poses 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 birds 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.
Moreno 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 tourists 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 wetland 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. (PNA)
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