The official website of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
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PRA: Bird sanctuary to be preserved

MANILA, Philippines - A bird sanctuary located along the Parañaque coastal area will be preserved to become part of a major ecotourism development to rise on nearby reclaimed lands.

The Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) belied earlier claims made by an environmental group that the man-made bird sanctuary would be removed to make way for the reclamation.

“The PRA has always been one with the Manila Bay Critical Habitat Management Council (MBCHMC) in preserving this critical habitat. We have secured this place long before its declaration as a critical habitat.

We will continue to protect it,” Eduardo Destura, representing the PRA, said in a speech before the council during Earth Day celebration rites yesterday and the 5th anniversary celebration of MBCHMC. Destura is currently the department head of PRA’s Planning and Evaluation.

“PRA, together with its partners and developers will endeavor to preserve this habitat and prove that progress and development can work hand-in-hand to protect the environment,” he added.

Contrary to what others have been saying, Destura stressed that the mangrove will not be part of the proposed reclamation.

“We shall maintain the integrity of the habitat. Add to that, it is being considered to be integrated to the overall development plan for ecotourism purposes.

Together with local government, we intend to enhance this habitat to make it a more suitable and sustainable sanctuary for wild birds,” he said.

He further explained that the PRA is a government agency mandated by law to contribute to the nation’s developmental goals by creating new lands through the use of scientific methods and new technology to ensure sustainability.

In recent months, the bird sanctuary, formerly a squatter colony, had been the subject of debates in media after environmentalists fearing its removal said this would affect the thousands of migratory birds that breed in it.

The media scrutiny brought to light another issue - the increased number of bird strikes at Manila’s main airports nearby. The sanctuary is within the flight path of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Terminals 2 and 3. Of late, former Las Piñas Rep.

Cynthia Villar, whose family owns one of the country’s biggest real estate firms, alleged that the reclamation would bring about floods. However, a thorough study by DHI Water and Environment of Denmark, an internationally recognized firm specializing in urban flood management, water utilities, water resources, coastal engineering, and environmental, health, and safety risk assessment, refuted the claims.

The Danish study revealed that the project would actually help mitigate the effects of flooding due to rising sea levels.

Included as key components of the reclamation are: the dredging of the Parañaque river to increase its depth by two to three meters; dredging of the Las Piñas/Zapote river mouths to increase their depth by one to two meters; removal of a sandbar near the mouth of the Las Piñas river to improve water flow during heavy rains, and construction of a 35-meter water channel gate to improve water flow.

It will also involve periodic dredging and the construction of a retention pond and a floating debris boom that will reduce the amount of garbage blocking river passageways.

The local governments of Las Piñas and Parañaque have expressed support for the project that is expected to boost the economy of, and bring thousands of jobs to, both cities.