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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, October 21, 2016
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Ramsar site covers 10 LGUs

Negros Occidental is now one of the seven places in the Philippines inaugurated as a Ramsar Site for wetlands conservation.

The Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area composed of 52 coastal barangays of the 10 LGUs was inaugurated yesterday at the Provincial Capitol Social Hall.

Ramsar Secretary-General Martha Rojas-Urrego said in her video message that the NOCWCA declaration as “Ramsar Site” is a symbol of making a commitment to take steps to ensure the wetlands' ecological character, as well as a place of significant value recognized internationally.

NOCWA lies along the 109.2 kilometers of contiguous coastline within the three cities (Bago, Himamaylan and Kabankalan) and seven towns (Pulupunpandan, Valladolid, San Enrique, Pontevedra, Hinigaran, Binalbagan and Ilog) in the southern part of Negros Occidental.

The other Ramsar Sites in the country are Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, Naujan Lake National Park, Puerto Princessa Subterranean River National Park, Tubbataha Reefs National Park, Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary and Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary.

Undersecretary Arturo Valdez of the Department of Enviroment and National Resources said Negros is really lucky to have this kind of place and he hopes it will expand up to the northern part of the province.

He also said that, in line with this, he will also enforce laws to protect the Visayan sea and apprehend those fishing illegally in the site.

The new Ramsar Site has 72 species of waterbirds recorded including three globally threatened species such as Great knot (Calidris tenuirostris), Far Eastern curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) and Nordmann's greenshank or Spotted greenshank (Tringa guttifer).

Vulnerable bird species like the Philippine duck (Anas luzonica) which is endemic in the country, Chinese egret (Engretta eulophotes) and Java Sparrow (Lonchura oryzivora) were also found in these coastal wetlands.

Gov. Alfredo Marañon, Jr. thanked the DENR for their cause in creating NOCWCA as one of the Ramsar site, and encouraged Negrosanons to continue this advocacy of protecting the environment.*Mark L. Garcia

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