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Birdwatching guide features forest, wetlands in Cebu

Sun Star Cebu
October 10, 2008

Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary

A LITTLE bird did it. Or several kinds of birds and one whose popularity has grown so that it’s got a mascot and a festival in its honor.

The Black Shama and about 20 other bird species, including the elusive Cebu Flowerpecker, placed the Nug-as Forest in the southern town of Alcoy in the guidebook, “Birdwatching in the Philippines” (Volume 1), published by the Department of Tourism and the Recreational Outdooor Exchange.

Released last month, the book lists different places in the country where various bird species—some rare, endangered or threatened endemic species as well as migratory species—can be found.

In Nug-as, the book which serves as guide for birdwatchers, also features the bird sanctuary in Olango Island, off Lapu-Lapu City, where migratory birds—escaping the winter in other parts of the world—feed and seek shelter.

The book, co-published by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, provides information such as how to get to the site, species of birds found there, time of the day to best observe the feathered creatures and basic provisions to prepare.

Sites

Nug-As Forest in Alcoy
Nug-As Forest in Alcoy

Aside from Alcoy and Olango, birdwatching sites included in the book are: Rasa Island and Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Palawan; Candaba Wildlife Conservation Park, Pampanga; Mt. Palay-Palay National Park in Ternate, Cavite; Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat; Alaminos and Bani, Pangasinan; Subic Bay Rainforest; Puerto Rivas in Balanga, Bataan; Villa Escudero in Tiaong, Quezon; and the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City.

Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano described birdwatching as the “next big tourist draw.” The activity is part of the DOT’s promotion of adventure tourism in the country.

Durano said in an earlier interview that adventure tourism, even with the United States as the only market and in the present financial conditions, has potential revenues amounting to $450 million.

“Every market has an adventure tourism segment. The market and the demand is there; it’s just a matter of the size and capacity of the site,” he said.

He said adventure tourism would result in the development of tourism outside the urban centers in Cebu.

But while adventure tourism does not require more than basic infrastructure and facilities, Durano raised the need for communities and local governments to protect natural resources and wildlife habitats in their areas.

In Nug-as, some local residents are being trained by the Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (CBCF) to become bird-watchers’ guides.

Godfrey Jakosalem of CBCF said eight local residents had completed a three-day training last week. The eight will undergo practical training later this month.

Jakosalem said there will be another training for other residents who are interested to learn and become birdwatching guides.

The Alcoy Municipal Government provided funding for the Nug-as Forest training center and birdwatchers’ receiving area.

CBCF, together with the Kapunungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Yutang Lasangnon sa Bulalacao, is also constructing a research center in the area. (LAP)