The Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area (NOCWCA) has recently been declared as a new East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF) site. This was on top of it being previously acknowledged as a Ramsar site by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance in October 2016.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Negros Island Regional Director Al Orolfo said the global recognition established by science shows that birds of East Australian species are visiting indeed the “green island-region”.
“Being an established flyway, we are now more committed that this area shall be conserved, protected and widely used by the communities,” he said. Director Orolfo also added that “this recognition is another output achieved through common efforts of all stakeholders.”
As a partner Flyway Site Network, the coastal stretch is now one of the sites in 22 countries that served as an air highway for about 55 migratory species, or more than five million birds.
The wetlands serve as one of the important sites for migrating shorebirds that breed from northern Asia and Alaska, and spend the non-breeding season in Southeast Asia and Australasia. NOCWCA hosts at least 73 species of water birds, three species of the globally threatened marine turtles, and the Irrawaddy dolphin.
With the new declaration, NOCWCA joins with three other sites in the Philippines that have been recognized as EAAF partners: the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, the Naujan Lake Natural Park, and the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park.
With a contiguous coastline of more than 109 kilometers and covering seven municipalities, NOCWCA is a major source of livelihood for many coastal residents and fishermen. GIZ’s Protected Area Management Enhancement (PAME) Project in the Philippines has supported the Negros Island Region in the conservation of NOCWCA, which is seen as a potential ASEAN Heritage Park. (PAME/ Opalyn Agulay)