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Biologist wants to put bird refuge on the map

By Miko Morelos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
10:03 pm | Sunday, September 11th, 2011


Waders foraging on the garbage-strewn beach

A biologist overseeing the Las Piñas-Parañaque bird sanctuary intends to have one of Metro Manila’s last natural reserves recognized by an international monitor as part of a route migratory birds use in East Asia and Australia.

Including the sanctuary—the Las Piñas- Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area—in the East Asian-Australasia Flyway Network could help the government maintain the reserve by way of grants or technical assistance from other members, according to Rey Aguinaldo, the sanctuary’s project manager.

“That’s what we plan to do. If we get recognition, the sanctuary will reap benefits like grants and technical assistance,” said Aguinaldo.

The East Asian-Australasia Flyway Network, which is based in South Korea, encompasses the Arctic Circle, through East and Southeast Asia, to Australia and New Zealand.

Established in 2006, the network is composed of 13 countries, including the Philippines, which is one of the founding partners, according to the network secretariat’s web site. Members also include nongovernment groups like World Wildlife Fund for Nature and Wetlands International.

The sanctuary, which was recognized by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, provides a stop for migratory birds as they make their annual journey during winter, flying away from as far as Siberia for warmer areas.

The 175-hectare zone is covered by lush mangroves and sits beside a coastal lagoon with a rich ecosystem that has thrived despite its close proximity to developed urban areas.

Aguinaldo said the lagoon serves as a valuable research ground for students, with several studies on its ecosystem ongoing.

These include the ill-effects of heavy metal poisoning on shellfish, which is a source of livelihood for coastal communities in Parañaque, Las Piñas and even neighboring Bacoor town in Cavite, the biologist added.

Aguinaldo said that the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources would be in charge of coordinating with the flyway network on the country’s intention of having the bird sanctuary recognized.

If the membership into the flyway network gets approved, the sanctuary would be the second one to gain international recognition after the Olango Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu.

"Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor 13:13 (NLT)

"Ngayon ang tatlong ito ay mananatili, ang pananampalataya, ang pag-asa at ang pag-ibig. Ngunit ang pinakadakila sa tatlong ito ay ang pag-ibig." 1 Kor 13:13 (ASD)