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Wetlands Caravan:
World Wetlands Day Celebration -
      Conserving Arayat Watershed for the Protection of Candaba Wetlands
03 February 2011

          The annual celebration of World Wetlands Day is an ideal venue for communicating this year's theme Forests for Water and Wetlands.  This also supports the International Year of the Forest which is being celebrated in the year 2011.  The connection between forests, water and wetlands is clearly emphasized in the SCPW's enrichment plantation/reforestation project - the Rehabilitation of  the Arayat Watershed for the Protection of Candaba Wetlands.  This is being implemented through the "tree-preneurship" approach wherein the participating upland farmers/families are trained to be tree-prenuers.

          The SCPW celebrated the World Wetlands Day around the concept of  Wetlands Caravan, the evolving CEPA Programme of SCPW for wetland conservation.  The celebration this year had three components: a bird watching activity, a Community Learning Forum, and a visit to the tree-preneurs' backyard nurseries at Barangay San Juan Baño.

         Joining the event were Ms. Jocelyn Esguerra, the National Coordinator of United Nations Development Programme - GEF SGP; Mr. Leovino Ignacio, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer  of Pampanga; Mr. Ruel Nucup, President of the Maria Sinukuan Upland Farmers Association; Ms. Joy Isla and Ms. Liza Vengco of the Unilever Philippines; Ms. Minerva Martinez of the Protected Wildlife Services of Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Region 3; and Mr. Rommel Santiago, the Protected Area Superintendent for the Mount Arayat National Park.  Also participating the celebration was Dr. Llewellyn Young, the Ramsar Regional Advisor for Asia and the Pacific.

Bird Watching at Candaba Wetlands

6:00 am
Bird Sanctuary, Candaba Wetlands
Candaba, Pampanga

      The celebration started with a bird watching at the Candaba wetlands.

      The Candaba Swamp is important in the flood control for the downstream Pampanga River. It acts as a natural flood retention basin during rainy season, holding the overflow from the smaller rivers, then drains into the larger Pampanga River.

     The swamp is an important staging and wintering area for thousands of migratory birds.  Birds, such as seven purple swamphens (Porphyrio porphyrio), Chinese pond herons (Ardeola bacchus), and black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) are among of the species sighted in the area. In 1982, about 100,000 ducks (Anatidae) were observed in a single day, a record for any site in the Philippines.

     Because of its biodiversity, to protect the area, the swamp has been declared a bird sanctuary, under close monitoring by the DENR and the local government.  Regulations include a permanent ban on hunting and strict management of land use.

more pictures of the bird watching

Community Learning Forum

10:00 am
Assembly Place of Maria Sinukuan Upland Farmers Asso.
Arayat, Pampanga

         More than a hundred upland farmers in Mount Arayat gathered for the Community Learning Forum held at the assembly place of the Maria Sinukuan Upland Farmers Association.  It aimed to increase the awareness and appreciation of the local population on the importance of the Arayat forest cover in the maintenance of the ecosystem integrity of the Arayat-Candaba watershed.

          Dr. Simplicia Pasicolan of the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (also a Member of the SCPW Board of Trustees), the resource speaker, discussed the topic "Forests and Wetlands: The Wetland-Forest Connection", specifically the Mount Arayat - Candaba Wetlands connection.

more pictures of the forum

Backyard Nurseries Visit

11:30 am
San Juan Baño, Arayat, Pampanga

      A visit to the backyard nurseries of the tree-preneurs was the third component of the celebration.  This was ended by an Open Forum where concerns and problems encountered by tree-preneurs in their backyard nursery development were raised and openly discussed.  Mr. Bienvenido Martin of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Ms. Amy Lecciones of the Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands facilitated the community interaction.

more pictures of the visit

To the Friends of the Society who helped make the events possible and successful -

United Nations Development Programme - GEF SGP
Maria Sinukuan Upland Farmers Association
Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Region 3
Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau
our CLEAR partner, Unilever – Philippines

Thank you!