Press Release
February 17, 2017

Villar leads celebration of World Wetlands Day, promotes LPPCHEA as an urban tourism destination

Sen. Cynthia Villar pushed for the recognition of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area (LPPCHEA) as an urban tourism destination as she led the celebration of the World Wetlands Day.

"We want the public to know that we have a place in Metro Manila where they can commune with nature and at the same time take part in activities for the conservation of this important habitat," Villar said.

Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said the promotion of LPPCHEA is timely given the plan of the Department of Tourism to revitalize urban tourism in Metro Manila.

"LPPCHEA as a tourism site offers a unique experience where visitors are encouraged to participate in volunteer activities such as cleanups, tree planting and watering, while appreciating the wonders of this site. We hope to develop LPPCHEA as a tourism destination so that we can have more support for its continued protection," she stressed.

The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) Board of Directors has approved the budget of P45 million for the conservation of LPPCHEA, including the construction of the Wetland Centre, Birdhives, Boardwalk and View Towers at the Long Island. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has also appropriated P10 million for the construction of the Visitors Centre and Boardwalk at the Freedom Island and the installation of water and electrical facility.

The World Wetlands Day was celebrated annually on February 2, to mark the day when the Convention on Wetlands was adopted in February 2, 1971 in the Iranian City of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

This year's theme, 'Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction,' is meant to highlight awareness on the importance of healthy wetlands in lessening the impacts of natural disasters such as typhoons, floods and droughts on communities.

Villar stressed the importance of protecting LPPCHEA and its 36-hectare mangrove forest. She cited the 2012 study conducted by the University of Cambridge, which showed that mangroves slow down the flow of water during storm surges and reduce the damage in coastal areas.

LPPCHEA is the 6th Ramsar site in the Philippines under the Ramsar Convention list of Wetlands of International Importance because of its vital role as a coastal urban wetland and bird sanctuary within Metro Manila.

It covers 175 hectares of wetland ecosystem and declared a critical area by virtue of Presidential Decree Nos.1412 and 1412-A. It is also an identified spawning area of fingerlings.

It is home and known breeding area of the Philippine Ducks, a vulnerable specie as listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Chinese Egret, Common Greenshank, and Black-Winged Stilts can also be found here along with 82 other wild bird species coming from as far as China, Japan and Siberia.

Six other areas in the Philippines are identified as Ramsar sites, namely: the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan; the Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park in Sulu; the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary; the Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro; the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu; and the Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area in Negros Occidental.

During the celebration, some 500 participants joined Villar for a coastal clean-up, bird watching and nature walk coming from various organizations, namely; Villar SIPAG, LPPCHEA Management, DENR-NCR, Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands, Cavitex-Care (Cavitex Advocates for the Restoration of the Environment), Alliance for Stewardship and Authentic Progress (ASAP), Biodiversity Management Bureau, DENR; Manila Bay Coordinating Office, National Solid Waste Management Commission, Pasig City Rehabilitation Commission, Philippine Reclamation Authority, Bureau of Fire Protection-Las Piñas City, Maynilad, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Coast Guard Auxillary NCR Luzon, Philippine Navy, Philippine Red Cross Las Piñas subchapter, PNP Maritime Group, Manila Bay Sunset Partnership Program Incorporated, Center for Environment Concerns, Ecowaste Coalition, Earth Island Institute, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Mother Earth Foundation, Oceana Philippines, Save our Shores, Save Philippine Seas, Wetlands International, Divine Light Academy, and the DEPED Schools Division of Las Piñas and Parañaque.

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