By Ellalyn De Vera Ruiz
A vulnerability study of the Manila Bay will be carried out as part of preserving mudflats, coral reefs, and mangroves from threats of climate change, waste dumping and illegal settlement.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development (DENR-ERDB) will conduct the 15-month vulnerability study of the Manila Bay along with the Ramsar Convention-recognized wetland – the 175-hectare Las Piñas Parañaque Critical Habitat Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA).
ERDB Director Henry Adornado said the study includes inventory of biophysical information on the bay.
“Part of the project is a study of the coastal and watershed areas in Manila Bay against selected environmental hazards,” he said.
“Baseline data and information will be crucial in monitoring the progress of the implementation of the newly adopted operational plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy for 2017-2022,” he added.
A total of 27 state agencies conducted a stock-taking workshop last month on the bay’s rehabilitation status.
DENR Undersecretary Maria Paz Luna, in-charge of the Manila Bay rehabilitation, emphasized the seriousness and urgency of the Bay’s cleanup, even if the original Supreme Court (SC) decision mandating its cleanup was issued 10 years ago.
“To make sound decisions and policies for the Manila Bay Area, updated and consolidated science-based information is crucial to identify and address current and potential issues and problems,” ERDB Assistant Director Bighani Manipula said.
As the Philippines is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty to conserve wetlands (lakes, rivers, aquifers, swamps, marshes, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas, tidal flats), it is responsible for the preservation of the Las Piñas-Parañaque wetland.
LPPCHEA has been recognized as a wetland of global ecological importance, which as defined by the Ramsar Convention, serves as habitat to at least 1 percent of population of any waterbird species in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.
The wetland hosts the Chinese egret, known globally to be threatened; common greenshank; and 10 percent of the population of black-winged stilt.
It hosts around 41 species of migratory birds coming from China, Japan, and Siberia.
DENR said rare species of water birds, counting to 27 with an estimated 5,000 heads, are found in it, which includes osprey, pied avocet, grey-tailed tattler, and Siberian rubythroat.
LPPCHEA is also the only known breeding area of the Philippine duck in the National Capital Region, it added. The Philippine duck is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.