Press Release
November 21, 2016

Villar pushes development of vital wetland as an urban destination

Sen. Cynthia Villar pushed for the development of the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area (LPPCHEA) as an alternative destination for urban dwellers and tourists.

"LPPCHEA can be developed as a destination that could rival shopping malls and other airconditioned structures around the metropolis. This way, we can raise awareness on the value of LPPCHEA to flora and fauna and the surrounding communities," Villar said.

LPPCHEA, a 175-hectare mangrove forest and marine habitat in Manila Bay serves as a sanctuary for 84 bird species, including migratory birds from as far as Siberia. It is also a home for the globally-threatened Philippine duck and Chinese egret. It provides a spawning habitat for fishes. Its 36-hectare mangrove forest has 11 mangrove species.

The chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, was in China recently upon the invitation of the Chinese Embassy. Villar had the opportunity to visit similar areas in China which were developed and are now preferred destinations that offer recreation and education activities as well as venue for annual festivals.

The 8-hectare Hong Kong Wetland Park in Central Hong Kong was described as "an oasis of green in an urban setting". It has an aviary, a greenhouse, fountains, lily ponds, playgrounds, restaurant and a marriage registry. It also houses the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware and the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre. It has an all-year-round program for students.

Opened in May 1991 and built at a cost of $398 million, the park houses 80 species of birds as well as a butterfly garden, fishpond hide, mudflat hide, mangrove boardwalk, riverside hide, succesion walk, stream walk, wetland reserve, viewing pavilion, discovery center, auditorium and a souvenir shop. The walk takes two to three hours to enjoy.

In promoting LPPCHEA, Villar said its status as a Wetland of International Importance as designated by the Ramsar Convention and a protected area as declared by Presidential Proclamation No. 1412, should be highlighted.

On March 15, 2013, the Ramsar Convention which was signed by 90 member-countries recognized LPPCHEA's global importance to biodiversity and the need to give it special protection from various threat, particularly, reclamation.

Aside from LPPCHEA, the other Philippine sites in the Ramsar list are: the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan; the Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park in Sulu; the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary; the Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro; and the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu.

"The public, especially the youth, has to know that we have a place in Metro Manila where they can commune with nature and at the same time take part in activities such as clean-ups, tree-planting, bird-watching while appreciating the wonders of this site," Villar said.

The 1,150-hectare Xixi National Wetland Park in Hangzhou, China, is also an urban wetland. Family activities such as kayaking, water cycling, water pedal boat, dragon boat, silkworm feeding and fish catching were offered in this park. Annual tourism festivals were held in this wetland such as Plum Appreciating Festival, Grand Occasion of Dragon Boats, Red Persimmon Festival, Reed Watching Festival,and Flower Festival.

"I urge our government agencies to really work for the development of LPPCHEA, to provide facilities for visitors and make this area an urban destination. We need this place to supplement the learnings of our students on wetland biodiversity as well as raise support from tourists for wetland conservation," Villar said.

At the Senate, Villar authored Senate Bill 148, which seeks to promote and institutionalize the protection, preservation and management of LPPCHEA as a wetland.

News Latest News Feed