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Sanctuary shutdown will not stop bird strikes

Philippine Standard Today
September 13, 2012

Published on September 13th, 2012
Written by: Eric B. Apolonio

Danish ornithologist Arne Jensen disputed on Wednesday the claim of airlines that removing the bird sanctuary at the Parañaque-Las Pinas area of Manila Bay will stop the bird strikes that are posing a threat to public safety.

“You don’t solve potential bird strikes at [Ninoy Aquino International Airport] by trying to vacuum-clean Coastal Lagoon,” said Jensen, who was bird strike advisor for 11 years of the Copenhagen Airport which is near two major bird sanctuaries.
The coastal lagoon is part of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area that lies on the path of aircraft landing at the airport.

“There are more than 100,000 wetlands birds in Manila Bay, moving back and forth every day and every season and they can’t be eliminated,” he added.

Jensen explained that each bird specie that lives at the coastal lagoon needs different mitigation measures.

“If you don’t know the location and altitude of strikes and what species are causing problems, any extirpation attempt becomes absurd and a waste of money,” Jensen said at a press briefing organized by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines.

The group said there is no evidence that the bird sanctuary has anything to do with bird strikes at the airport and there are several airports around the world that co-exist with bird sanctuaries, including London’s Heathrow and Bangkok’s New Suvarnabhumi Airports.

Birds have been giving headaches to airlines after they started experiencing bird strikes in 2008 when a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong collided with a bird while landing.

So far, there had been no fatalities involved in local bird strikes, but information from the United States Federal Aviation Administration says 15 percent of bird strikes worldwide caused actual damage that could cost as much as $5 million in engine repairs.

All over the country, the record jumped from 42 bird strikes in 2009 to 120 in 2010, leading airlines and pilots to worry about the dangers.
Photo caption: Flight path. Government officials are planning to remove the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area that lies in the path of aircraft landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, but bird lovers (inset, from left) Gina Mapua, Michael Lu, Ipat Luna and Danish ornithologist Arne Jensen dispute the claim, saying the birds would only move to other areas nearer the aiport and pose a greater threat to aviation and public safety. (Story on A6) LINO SANTOS