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Photo Source: Journey Era

It was 2016, almost 5 years ago, when the Philippines successfully listed Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area as one of the seven (7) Philippine Wetlands of International Importance or Ramsar Sites in the world. It is the last of the listed Ramsar for the Philippines.

 

Today, the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the local government of Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte, bid Siargao for Ramsar after it has recorded to be a home of 110 species of plants and 403 species of animals from the aquatic and terrestrial habitats through the project “Assessment, Inventory and Biological Field Surveys of Flora and Fauna of the Mangrove forests in Del Carmen, Siargao Island” funded by NRCP.

A virtual presser will be held on July 26, 2021 at 1:00 in the afternoon in conjunction with the webinar on the Mangrove Biodiversity of Del Carmen: A presentation of NRCP Projects. This is also in celebration of the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem on the same day. The presser is intended for the Philippine media to widely disseminate this initiative and for the council to intensify the local government’s bid for Siargao to become a Ramsar.

The resource persons of the presser include Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, NRCP President Gregorio E.H. del Pilar, NRCP Executive Director Marieta Bañez Sumagaysay, Del Carmen Mayor Proserfina “Baby” Matugas Coro, Del Carmen Vice Mayor Alfredo Matugas Coro II, and Siargao Project Team led by NRCP member Dr. Cecilia Banag Moran.

The very first Ramsar site of the Philippines was in 1994 when the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu was listed. Five years after, three (3) sites were listed in 1999 -  Naujan Lake National Park, Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. The next were the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. According to Article 2.2 of the Ramsar Convention, wetlands should be selected for the list of their international significance in terms of ecology, botany, zoology, limnology or hydrology. There are nine criteria for identifying wetlands of international importance and Siargao is highly considered for Criterion 1, to wit, A wetland should be considered internationally important if it contains a representative, rare, or unique example of a natural near-natural wetland type found within the appropriate biogeographic region. The criteria can be accessed at https://ramsar.org

Likewise, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources website states that the Convention's mission is on the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world.

Siargao in the ‘Spotlight’

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In the webinar, NRCP will present the research results of Siargao Biodiversity Project, Assessment, Inventory and Biological Field Surveys of Flora and Fauna of the Mangrove forests in Del Carmen, Siargao Island”, on July 26, 2021, 9:00 AM via a webinar. The results of the study are inputs to LGU’s bid for Ramsar site.

The mangrove forests in Del Carmen will be on spotlight in this activity. Siargao Island, better known as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, will show the megadiverse Del Carmen mangrove forest, as the study was able to record 19-mangrove species in the area. This is out of the 54-mangrove species in the world. With this, Del Carmen has 35.19% of the world mangrove species. It is notable to share that a remarkable record of new 90 species of marine flora were identified.

Project leader Dr. Moran will share the presentation titled, Spotlight Siargao: Diving into the Surfing Capital’s Better Kept Secret, Del Carmen’s Biodiversity! She will be joined by her team who will share the results of their component studies in flora and fauna. The team include, Dr. Anna Pauline O. de Guia (Mammals), Ms. Mae Lowe L. Diesmos (Amphibians), Dr. Arvin C. Diesmos (Reptiles), Mr. Perry Buenavente (Insects), Dr. Rosario Rubite (Flora), Dr. Mudjekeewis Santos (Marine Fishes), Dr. Juan Carlos T. Gonzalez (Birds), and Ms. Marivene M. Santos (Decapods Crustaceans).

With the rich diversity of Siargao, listing it for global importance should be considered for its conservation and sustainability. The presence of a threatened and endemic flora and fauna and possible new species, aside from the high diversity in the area is sufficient support for the Del Carmen Mangrove Forest to be listed under Ramsar for its long-term conservation and sustainable utilization. Both Del Carmen, Siargao Mayor Proserfina M. Coro and Vice Mayor Alfredo M. Coro III are actively pushing for the Ramsar listing and will present their plans and programs for the sustainable development of Del Carmen.

Participants will be able to dive into the best kept secret of Del Carmen through the webinar. NRCP welcomes everyone to join the activity, register at https://bit.ly/NRCPSiargaoBiodiversityWebinar-Register. The more people will discover the hidden beauty and treasures of Siargao, the more people will support the conservation of the area.

Participants of this webinar include Local Government Units of Del Carmen, Siargao, Surigao State College of Technology (SSCT), Wetlands International, Philippines Program, SIPLAS - PAMO / PAMB, DENR-BMB, House of Representatives for Natural Resources, and the Ecology, Senate Committee Chair for Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change, NRCP Members of Division V, VII, and XIII, DOST agencies, institutes, councils, offices.