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Tomas wants birds to have part of SRP

Tomas wants birds to have part of SRP
By Doris C. Bongcac
Cebu Daily News
Last updated 11:30am (Mla time) 08/30/2007

Cebu City, Philippines - Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña yesterday said he wanted two hectares of reclaimed land at the 300-hectare South Road Properties (SRP) to be developed into a nature park designed to accommodate migratory birds.

WBCP pays courtesy call to Cebu City Mayor's Office to discuss
the 3rd Philippine Bird Festival Sugbu and plans to conserve
the habitat at the South Road Properties. Photo shows
WBCP President Mike Lu, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, WBCP Conservation Committee Chair Anna Gonzales, and
City Administrator Francisco Fernandez at the mayor's office.
“It’s something that I think should be a source of pride. Ours is the only real estate development in the country that has attracted wildlife,” he said.

More than 20 bird species, including the Chinese Pond Heron, egrets, sea gulls, and the Philippine duck, often mingle at a wet portion of the 100-hectare Pond B of the SRP during the rainy seasons to frolic and feed.

Osmeña has sought the assistance of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines to develop the nature park. He has asked the group, through its president Michael Lu, to make him a project proposal.

The mayor said he can set aside at least two hectares of wetland from Pond B for a nature park.

SRP project manager Nigel Paul Villarete said the sunken, water-filled area of Pond B was a result of a sudden change in the SRP’s design implemented by former mayor Alvin Garcia.

He said Garcia changed the elevation of some parts of Pond B from 3.2 meters from sea level to only 2.7 meters. This allowed rainwater to fill some portions of Pond B close to the South Coastal Road (SCR).

If a nature park is established, Villarete said he would prefer to have it in the section of Pond B closest to Pond A, away from the SCR.

Globally threatened and endemic Philippine Ducks are some of the resident species at the SRP.
He said he was worried that the presence of rainwater might affect the soil’s load-bearing capacity, which, in turn, may affect the SCR.

The logical thing to do, Villarete said, was to fill up the flooded area with soil.

Osmeña said it would cost the city government another P100 million to fill the sunken area of Pond B with soil to bring it up to 3.2 meters.

The city does not have funds for that purpose, the mayor said.

Since the sunken area has already attracted wildlife, the mayor said he would set it aside for that purpose.

“The presence of birds will enhance the attractiveness of the SRP,” he said.

The mayor expressed apprehension that once development starts at the SRP, the birds might be driven away.

But Anna Gonzales, a member of the Wild Bird Club said “urbanization and birds can co-exist.” She cited the Guandu Nature Park in Taipei, which was built in the middle of the city.

Lu, president of the club, said properties located around Taipei’s nature park ended up having higher market values.

Skyscrapers were also built around the park to provide a good view of it.