Subic Bay Freeport community joins World Wetlands Day celebration

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT– The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) launched the 1st Subic Bay Wetlands Celebration Wednesday (Feb. 1), joining the international community in celebrating this year’s World Wetlands Day.

With the theme “Wetlands for disaster risk reduction”, the two-day Subic celebration culminated with the holding of Biay Mangrove Adventure with around 150 employees and environmental officers from different companies participating in various activities related to mangrove protection.

SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma said the activity which was spearheaded by the agency’s environment arm, the Ecology Center, was aimed at educating the participants on the importance of wetlands to the coastal communities, the environment and marine life.

Volunteers conduct an epifaunal survey using a quadrant frame, a method in determining and counting living species in swamplands. The activity was part of the celebration of World Wetlands Day at the Malawaan-Binictican mangrove area in Subic Bay Freeport Thursday (Feb. 02) morning. Celebrated every February 2 each year, World Wetlands Day, with this year’s theme “Wetlands for Disaster Risks Reduction”, marks the date of the adaption of the Convention on Wetlands on February 02, 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar.

“We appreciate the participants for sharing their time in raising public awareness about the importance of the wetlands and contribute to the conservation and protection of our mangrove forests,” she said.
Inside the Freeport’s Binictican-Malawaan Mangrove Area, participants were divided into groups: one group assigned to pick-up, identify and record trash and garbage found inside the mangrove area, and another to plant mangrove samplings to “vacant” portions of the area.

Another group was assigned to count and record how many living crustaceans they could find in the selected one square meter-area of the wetland to determine the biodiversity in the area.

SBMA Ecology Center head Amethya Dela Llana-Koval said the records will be used as reference in formulating a mangrove management plan that will define guidelines and policies related to the protection and conservation of all mangrove areas in the Freeport.

There is an estimated 62 hectares of wetlands in Subic Freeport located in Boton, Binictican-Malawaan, Triboa A, Triboa B, Nabasan and Ilanin, where 37 species of mangroves are found and serve as feeding, spawning and nursery grounds to many marine life and considered as nature’s buffer to natural hazards such as flooding caused by storms, cyclones, storm surges and tsunamis.

Among the objectives of the MMP is to regulate the harvesting of all resources, such as fish, crabs, woods among others, inside the mangrove areas through the help of a community-based monitoring team.

Koval also lauded Administrator Eisma for her support to environment-related activities of Ecology Center, including the launching of 1st Subic Bay Wetlands Day celebration.

In a meeting with environmental officers prior to celebration day, Koval remarked that Eisma is supporting all programs of the Ecology Center, particularly one that penalizes litterers and trash throwers in the Freeport zone.

“Galit ang ating Administrator sa basura na madalas makita sa ating mangrove areas na madalas maging sanhi ng pagkasira ng ating bakawan at pagkaubos ng mga yamang tubig,” she said.

She noted that one may not realize the importance of mangroves until the day we lose our water resources and habitat. “Mangroves are the life of our water resources. When the eco-system is put in danger by destroying the mangrove areas, other parts of the environment are also affected,” she explained.

World Wetlands Day was first celebrated internationally in 1997 and held every 2nd of February by holding activities to raise public awareness and promote the conservation and protection of wetlands including seminars, mangrove adventures, festivities and other activities. — MHIKE R. CIGARAL

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