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SPCW recognition proves PH commitment to protect wetlands

THE inclusion of the Sasmuan Pampanga Coastal Wetlands (SPCW) in the Ramsar Convention’s List of Wetlands of International Importance demonstrated the country’s commitment to protect wetland ecosystems.

This was stressed by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu as he was elated over the SPCW’s inclusion in said list.

In his keynote speech delivered by Undersecretary for Attached Agencies and Chief of Staff Rodolfo Garcia during the recent virtual celebration of the 50th World Wetlands Day, Cimatu said the SPCW fulfills four criteria of the Ramsar Convention, which confirms the international significance of its biodiversity and its services both at the species and ecosystems level.

Wetlands are not wastelands. The success stories of the wetlands of Boracay Island, Manila Bay Rehabilitation as well as the Pasig River, are testament to that. Wetlands, like water, play a vital role not only in our planet’s health but also in our life and wellbeing,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu commended the DENR-Region 3, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office-Pampanga and the local governments of Sasmuan and Pampanga for their hard work and dedication to make SPCW’s recognition happen.

For his part, DENR-Region 3 Executive Director Paquito Moreno Jr. said that they are honored and fortunate that the annual celebration of World Wetlands Day has become more significant and special because the SPCW is now officially declared as a Wetland of International Importance.

Moreno said the SPCW, which covers over 3,500 hectares of coastal waters and four barangays in Sasmuan town in Pampanga province, is the first Ramsar Site in Central Luzon.

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretary General Martha Rojas-Urrego, on the other hand, also congratulated the Philippines on the inclusion of the SPCW to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance or as a Ramsar Site.

The SPCW joins the roster of officially declared Ramsar Sites around the world as Ramsar Site No. 2445.

Today, 171 Contracting Parties, including the Philippines have signed the Convention. Collectively these countries have designated a total of 2,414 Wetlands of International Importance, known as Ramsar Sites. On February 2, 2021, Sasmuan Pampanga Coastal Wetlands joins this prestigious list of wetland-protected sites as the 8th Ramsar Site in the Philippines,” Urrego said.

The Convention on Wetlands is an international treaty for the conservation and wise use of wetlands. Also known as the Ramsar Convention, it is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran where the convention was signed in 1971.

Since the accession to the Convention on November 8, 1994, the Philippines has designated eight Wetlands of International Importance.

World Wetlands Day is being celebrated every Feb. 2 to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet.

Presidential Proclamation no. 74 series of 1999 also declares Feb. 2 of every year as National Wetlands Day in recognition of immense importance of wetlands to the welfare of the Filipino people and the protection of global biodiversity.

The theme for this year’s World Wetlands Day celebration is “Wetlands and water.