By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has found an ally in the conservation of the Buguey Wetlands in Cagayan province following the engagement of elementary and high school students residing near the distinct ecosystem.
The students learned the importance and benefits of wetlands through the Buguey Wetlands Summit, highlighting the celebration of the World Wetlands Day.
With the theme, “Wetlands and Climate Change,” the participants from Minanga Elementary School, Mala Weste Elementary School, Leron Elementary School, Centro West Elementary School, Buguey Central Elementary School, San Isidro Elementary School, Sta. Maria Primary School and Licerio Antiporda Senior National High School also learned the roles of wetlands in mitigating the effects of climate change.
The students participated in different interactive lectures and activities which allowed them to tour in some areas within the wetlands.
In the first station, the students experienced bird watching and were asked to identify the migratory birds visiting the area. The participants identified five species, namely, Black-winged Stilt, Intermediate Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, and Purple Heron.
They also learned the common species of mangroves and its parts and functions in the second station. They identified seven species in the area, which include Bakawan Lalaki, Bakawan Babae, Pagatpat, Pototan, Saging-saging, Nipa, and Bungalon or Api-api.
In the last two sessions, students learned the functions of wetlands and the interconnection of natural resources through find-a-word and memory games in the last two stations.
Prior to the summit, a series of Dalaw Turo was conducted in schools to widen the students’ knowledge about wetlands. Campaign materials like pamphlets, game cards, shirts, and hats were also given to the students and their teachers.
The event is part of the Buguey Wetlands Awareness Campaign (BWAn) Project, a grant given to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office of Cagayan with Community Environment and Natural Resources Office of Aparri and local government of Buguey as implementers.
It aims to provide supplemental activities for the conservation and development of the environment and is funded by Ramsar Regional Center-East Asia.
BWAn Project Lead Emerlynn Daliong encouraged the students to share their learnings during the activity to their family and friends to build a bigger and stronger network in wetlands protection and preservation.
Buguey Wetlands, with an approximate area of 500 hectares, cover about 80 percent of the total area of the municipality of Buguey.
These wetlands are composed of coastal lagoons, freshwater marshes, mangrove swamps, mudflats, with some fish, crab and shrimp ponds, and large rice paddies.