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Las Piñas-Parañaque Lagoon: Protected Area

Las Piñas-Parañaque Lagoon: Protected Area
By Marvin Sy
Philippine Star : [Tuesday, April 24, 2007]

President Arroyo has declared 175.3 hectares of the coastal lagoon of Las Piñas and Parañaque City as a protected area for migratory birds and for eco-tourism.

The President signed the proclamation yesterday during the Earth Day celebration at the Rizal Hall of Malacanang.

Mrs. Arroyo noted that the lagoons of Parañaque City and Las Piñas support populations of the globally threatened Chinese Egret and the Philippine Duck, along with 27 other species of rare and uncommon waterbirds.

North Lagoon as seen during sunset
North Lagoon as seen during sunset

"Manila Bay is one of the most important coastal wetlands, hosting more waterbirds than any other area in the Philippines, and one of the key biodiversity sites for conservation and sustainable development as identified by DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and by national and international organizations," the proclamation stated.

With the proclamation, the 175-hectare area spanning the two southern Manila cities will be known as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area.

Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes told reporters that the government must also monitor the area for migratory birds that may carry the deadly avian flu virus.

Based on the presidential proclamation, any reclamation in the periphery of the protected area should not impede the ecological function of the lagoon and its small islands' mangroves, salt marshes and tidal areas as breeding, feeding and roosting place for marine and terrestrial wildlife.

The relevant government agencies and instrumentalities will also be required to maintain 15 percent of the 1,500-hectare total area of Boulevard 2000, or what is also known as Bay City, for wildlife habitats.

The Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), as the government entity with jurisdiction over Boulevard 2000, may utilize existing mangroves and tidal flats already inhabited by wild birds to comply with the 50 meters green zone and promenade included in the Integrated Framework Plan, which aims to develop the Manila Bay Waterfront to international standards of mixed use.

Mrs. Arroyo noted that the Philippines is a signatory to the International Convention on the Conservation of Wetlands or the RAMSAR Convention.

According to the RAMSAR Convention, an area is considered a wetland if it hosts at least one percent of the population of any waterbird species in the East Asian Flyway.

The Las Piñas-Parañaque lagoon falls under this category as it hosts the Common Greenshank and 10 percent of the population of the Black-winged Stilt.

Flocks of Common Redshanks and Greenshanks
Flocks of Common Redshanks and Greenshanks frequent
the Coastal Lagoons during the migration season

The DENR was also tasked under the proclamation to chair a Manila Bay Critical Habitat Management Council composed of the representatives of the PRA, non-government organizations with technical capacity and proven ecological and biodiversity management capability, the Department of Tourism, the city governments of Las Piñas and Parañaque and people's organizations with a direct stake in the area.