Media Wetland Exposure Activity at Candaba Wetlands

For this year, the celebration of World Wetlands Day focused on the importance of wetlands with the theme, “Wetlands and Climate Change.”  The frequency of disasters worldwide has more than doubled in just 35 years, and 90% of these disasters are water-related.  Wetlands play a significant role in stabilizing GHG emissions and blunting the impacts of climate change.

The Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands , Inc. (SCPW) celebrated WWD this year at the Candaba Wetlands in Candaba, Pampanga. The Candaba Wetlands  is a complex of freshwater ponds, swamps and marshes with surrounding areas of seasonally flooded grassland and arable land on a vast alluvial plain.

A view of Candaba Wetlands with Mt Arayat in the background. The Candaba Wetlands is an extremely important staging and wintering area for migratory birds, from October up to April of every year, as it regularly supports between 5,000 and 10,000 birds. It is a significant part of the East Asia-Australasian Migratory Flyway. It also forms a critical part of the Pampanga River Basin for a floodwater management strategy for disaster mitigation, conservation and water supply needs.

As part of the global community advocating for the wise use of wetlands, the SCPW, in partnership with the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and Region III of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, spearheaded the celebration of  World Wetlands Day 2019 at Candaba Wetlands, specifically the part in Barangay Paligui, Candaba, Pampanga.  The conduct of a “Media Wetland Exposure Activity” –  a birding activity and a tour of the Candaba Wetlands, was a two-day event on 1 -2 February 2019 for members of various media organizations and select bloggers.

SCPW Executive Director Amy Lecciones interviewed by the media.

The activity aimed to raise awareness on wetlands and its ecosystem services, particularly its role in adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change. By tapping one of today’s most valuable forces: media, the event was expected to generate media coverage reports on wise use of wetlands, including write-ups, articles and social media content, among others, from the participating environmental media and bloggers.

Opening Remarks by BMB Director  Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez

Day 1

Welcoming remarks from Region III – DENR Asst. Regional Director Arthur Salazar

The first day, 01 February was a briefing on the Candaba Wetlands and was held at the Social Hall of DENR Region III Office in San Fernando, Pampanga. Mr. Arthur Salazar, Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services welcomed the participants. Ms. Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez, Director of BMB-DENR likewise addressed the event highlighting the theme of this year’s World Wetlands Day. Other speakers who discussed wetland-related topics were Ms. Joy Navarro of BMB-DENR and Ms. Minerva Martinez of Region III – DENR. Ms. Cely de Leon of the Municipal Agriculture Office of Candaba presented the local Climate Change Action Plan, while Ms. Amy Lecciones, the Executive Director of SCPW discussed the ecological profile of the Candaba Wetland in Barangay Paligui which is the field exposure site for the activity.

Briefing on the birding site: SCPW Executive Director Amy Lecciones discussed the Paligui Wetland Project of SCPW supported by the Ramsar Regional Center

Day 2
The second day of the event, on 02 February, was a birding activity in the Candaba Wetlands in Barangay Paligui, the barangay that hosts the largest portion of wetlands in the municipality of Candaba. It is also the site for a project of the SCPW which is funded by the Ramsar Regional Center-East Asia that aims to transform the area as an agricultural wetland showcase for wetland conservation.  The participants started out to the rice paddies at dawn to experience carabao cart ride and enjoy the sights and sounds of the farm wetland.  Aside from the thrill of identifying birds, the participants also had the opportunity to interact with some of the farmers of the Macagatal Irrigators Association, a farmer organization who owns the 132-hectare property.  This further enhanced their understanding of how the farmers depend on the ecosystem services provided by these wetlands.

The event was participated by 24 individuals coming from local and national media. The Local Government Unit of the Municipality of Candaba, and Barangay Paligui; local farmers, including members of the Macagatal Irrigators Association (MIA); and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) – Pampanga also supported the activity.

The Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands, Inc. spearheads the annual celebration of World Wetlands Day in the Philippines.