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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, January 15, 2018
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Conservation Matters

Asian waterfowl census

This January, the synchronized Asian Waterfowl Census is being conducted along countries, including the Philippines, in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Network, Lisa Paguntalan, executive director of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc., said.

The flyway refers to the network of important wetlands used by migratory water birds. The East Asian-Australasian Flyway is one of the nine major migratory water birds flyways around the globe and home to more than 50 million migratory water birds.

About 900 sites are officially recognized as internationally important to migratory water birds along the flyway, including four in the Philippines, and these are the Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area in southern Negros Occidental, Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu, Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro, and the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park in Palawan. These four sites are similarly inscribed as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention of the United Nations.

The importance of the flyway led to the establishment of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Network Partnership during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2006 as a Type II initiative, which is an informal and voluntary initiative aimed to protect migratory water birds, their habitats, and the livelihood of people dependent upon them. The partnership is providing a flyway-wide framework in promoting dialog, cooperation, and collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders, including governments and nongovernment organizations, various agencies of the UN, private, industrial and academic institutions, and communities, among others, in different countries where the flyways are found.

Last week, the Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area was in the limelight in the conservation community when the critically-endangered Spoonbill sandpiper was noted and documented for the first time in the site. That was the first record of the Spoonbill sandpiper in Negros Island.

Godfrey Jakosalem, PBCFI senior wildlife biologist, was able to count three species of the Spoonbill sandpiper in Barangay Tibsoc, San Enrique. The PBCFI, on its Facebook page, issued an advisory to those who will participate in the waterfowl census along coastal mudflats in several parts of the country to be on alert for the possible presence of the Spoonbill sandpiper.

Among the four water birds flyway sites in the Philippines, the NOCWCA has the presence of the most globally threatened species , which include the recently recorded critically endangered Spoonbill sandpiper, two endangered (Great know and Nordmann's greenshank) and three vulnerable (Far eastern curlew, Philippine duck and Chinese Egret) species. The recording of these species in the NOCWCA makes it as one of the most important global sites for migratory and water birds.

The PBCFI is working closely with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in conducting the annual census in Negros, Panay, Cebu, and in Region 8. Also in partnership with the DENR, through the Protected Area Office, the Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. is similarly implementing the annual count in the Naujan Lake National Park. The purposes of the count are to determine what species of water birds are available during the migration season and the number of each species so as to ascertain the population trend of the different species.

The Philippines, being a party to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, also known as the Bonn Convention, and the Ramsar Convention, has the obligation to protect migratory species and wetlands. *

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