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PIA Press Release

DENR appeals for protection, preservation and conservation of Ligawasan Marsh

by Edgar B. dela Cruz

Koronadal City (16 February) -- Armed with the mandates of the government in protecting and preserving the environment and a prime mover of environmental protection, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources XII (DENR XII) Protected Areas and Wildlife Division (PAWD) conducted a media forum on Wetlands with emphasis on the Ligawasan Marsh Biodiversity Conservation Project and in celebration of 2009 World Wetland Day with a theme " Upstream - Downstream: Wetland Connects us All."

At the said forum, DENR 12 Regional Executive Director Raquil-Ali M. Lucman appealed to media and other concerned government line agencies to help in the biodiversity conservation, preservation and protection of Ligawasan Marsh, which runs in the three provinces of Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.

The Ligawasan Marsh was proclaimed as Game Refuge and Birds Sanctuary by virtue of Forestry Administrative Order No. 19, series of 1941 with an approximate area of 43,930 hectares.

Ligawasan Marsh is one of the country's largest freshwater bodies. The entire marsh is approximately 288,00 hectares. It comprises of three adjoining marshes, the Ebpanan, Libungan ang Liguasan. It serves as drainage area of Cotabato River Basin and serves also as natural flood control for low-lying downstream areas. Ligawasan is a Muslim term meaning marsh.

Ligawasan Marsh is a wetland classified under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance or RAMSAR convention. Freshwater wetlands includes lakes, swamps and marshes, river basins, reservoirs and dams.

Wetlands are parts of our natural wealth, it often plays a crucial role in flood control. Plant and soil in the wetlands play a significant role in purifying water. Wetlands in general are home to great diversity of species of flora and fauna, rice as common wetland plant and a staple diet for over half of the world's population.

Wetlands are prime location for tourism, it also serve as recreational activities such as fishing, hunting and boating. It has also of religious, historical and archeological, historical or other cultural significance.

It also serve as groundwater replenishment, sediment and nutrient retention and export. A shoreline stabilizer and storm protector. It mitigate climatic changes. And provides variety of other benefits in the form of products that can be exploited for human use.

OIC-Chief Protected Areas and Wildlife Division of DENR 12 Forester Ali M. Hadjinasser also said that DENR is doing a biodiversity conservation project to preserve, protect, and conserve the Ligawasan Marsh.

In 1998 National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) initiates a Ligawasan Marsh Development Master Plan for 1999 to 2025 to serve as a blueprint for more holistic, integrated and comprehensive development of the entire marsh.

In 2001, The DENR implemented the River Basin and Watershed Management Program ((RBWMP) thru funding from Global Environmental Fund of the World Bank.

Cotabato River Basin (Mindanao River Basin) was chosen as pilot area by RBWMP and Conservation of Wetland Biodiversity of Ligawasan Marsh Project (CWBLMP) as one of the component of the Cotabato River Basin 2001-2004).

Result of the different assessment and study on the Ligawasan Marsh Biodiversity reveals that it is suitable for establishment under NIPAS as natural biotic areas. Based on review of document, there is a limited effort aimed at protecting and conserving the biodiversity of the Ligawasan marsh. The marsh is slowly dying due to the increased anthropogenic activities which causes sedimentation and siltation resulting from off-site industrial activities and land use conversion within the marsh and high-lying areas surrounding the marsh.

The declared Bird Sanctuary has remained relatively intact over the years. However, no apparent advanced vegetation development can be found in the areas.

The DENR 12 has massively and intensively doing different information, education and communication activities to the communities and people surrounding the marsh and in the upper valley to protect, conserve and preserve the God-given nature so the next generation could see and enjoy the benefits of the product of the marsh.

Director Lucman has urged everybody and is continuously appealing and advocating to preserve, conserve and protect the Ligawasan Marsh and Mother Nature as he said "the protection, conservation and preservation of environment is not only the concern of DENR but each one of us." (aca/PIA 12) [top]

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