PHL calls for sustainable use of intertidal wetlands

The Philippines is pressing for the sustainable use of intertidal wetlands and other coastal habitats for the survival of migratory species.

In a statement, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it has formally submitted to the Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) a draft resolution calling over 120 Range States to enhance efforts to conserve and promote intertidal wetlands.

Intertidal wetlands and other coastal and estuarine habitats are critically important not only to migratory birds but also to cetaceans, dugongs, turtles and fish as areas for breeding, for staging during migration, molting or during other nonbreeding periods.

The resolution will be put to a vote when parties to the CMS, a global treaty under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Program, gather in Manila from October 23 to 28 for the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CMS, or COP12.

Secretary Roy A. Cimatu lauded the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) of the DENR and other stakeholders for putting together the draft resolution.

For her part, BMB Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim expressed hope the CMS event will strengthen the country’s linkages with other nations in protecting migratory species.

“Since the Philippines is not a large or rich country, it is important that we form an alliance with other nations to protect migratory species,” Lim said.

The draft resolution also urges nations to halt further approval of intertidal flat conversion until a full assessment of the economics of ecological services and identification needs for migratory species and other wildlife can be completed.

It also seeks to strengthen the relevant multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) concerning the coasts and wetlands, including the funding of scientific subsidiary bodies under MEAs.

The resolution, likewise, seeks to adequately cover coastal and intertidal flats in protected area systems to reduce the loss of these migratory species’ habitats. Further, it aims to recognize and promote these protected areas that shall demonstrate effective management of ecosystems vital to the survival of migratory species and linked to community livelihoods and human well-being.

Protected areas qualified as intertidal sites will be considered for nomination in World Heritage Sites, as well as Ramsar Sites.

Also included in the resolution are initiatives and programs aimed at raising public awareness on the importance of intertidal wetlands and other associated habitats to people.

With the Philippines hosting the world’s largest wildlife conference this year, Lim is hopeful that more Filipinos will become aware of protecting the diverse migratory species that pass through the country.

“Most of the people are not aware of the importance of these migratory species to them,” Lim said. “This event is a good opportunity to highlight this.”

According to Lim, the outcome of the event is expected to influence the legislative agenda of the CMS parties in protecting the migratory species through laws to be passed by each country.