Wetland center for students to rise south of Manila
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 2, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A wetland center that will help educate students on the importance of wetland and wildlife conservation will open at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park before the end of the year, Sen. Cynthia Villar said Monday. 

“Soon, our students will have another reason to frequent the park, not only for clean-up and tree-planting activities, they will also have the wetland center to help them understand more why wetlands are important,” Villar announced at the photo exhibit showcasing the work of wild bird photographer Ed Santos at the Solaire resort hotel in Parañaque City. 

The senator, who chairs the committee on environment and natural resources, stressed the conservation of wetlands like the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park is part of efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“For one, natural features of wetlands such as mangrove trees serve as barriers that protect communities against storm surges and flooding,” she said.

The wetland center, which is a donation from her family, will house a restaurant, training center, museum, souvenir shop and satellite office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 

The groundbreaking ceremony was held last February. The builders are awaiting the go-signal from the Philippine Reclamation Authority to begin construction.

The 175-hectare park is a Wetland of International Importance as declared by the Ramsar Convention for its critical role in the survival of threatened, restricted-range and congregatory bird species. 

One percent of the remaining black stilts can be found in the park, or 1,000 of the remaining 100,000 in the world. 

The wetland ecosystem is also home and known breeding area of Philippine ducks, a vulnerable species as listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Chinese egret, common greenshank and black-winged stilts are also found here along with 82 other wild bird species coming from as far as China, Japan and Siberia.

It has 30 hectares of mangrove forest, accepted as the thickest and most diverse in Manila Bay.

To date, 11 species of mangroves are growing in the area. It is also a declared protected area under the Villar-authored Republic Act 11038 or the law expanding the National Integrated Protected Areas System.

Aside from the wetland, six other Ramsar sites are found in the Philippines: the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan; Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park in Sulu; Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Agusan del Sur; Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro; Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu, and the Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area.

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