The Annotated Ramsar List: Philippines


The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance


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The Convention on Wetlands came into force for the Philippines on 8 November 1994. The Philippines presently has 5 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 154,234 hectares.

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary. 12/11/99; Mindanao; 14,836 ha; 08º17’N 125º53’E. A vast complex of freshwater marshes and watercourses with numerous shallow lakes and ponds in the upper basin of the Agusan River and its tributaries, which rise in the hills of eastern Mindanao. Some parts of the marsh have been converted into fishponds and rice paddies. The site acts as storage for rain water and reduces the downstream flow of flood water into Butuan City and other population centers. The Marsh supports the largest expanses left in the Philippines of seven habitat types and includes a very large area of swamp forest and a peat swamp forest not found anywhere else in the country. High silt loads caused by deforestation and other activities in the catchment are a continuing problem. The Marsh is sparsely populated because of seasonal flooding, and the population are 1) permanent residents of the Marsh who live in floating houses, 2) people who live within the Marsh in the dry seasons and move to the peripheries during the flood season, and 3) people who live permanently on the peripheries and move into the marsh on a daily basis. Trapping of crocodiles for sale on commercial farms is an important activity. Ramsar site no. 1009. Most recent RIS information: 1999.

Naujan Lake National Park. 12/11/99; Oriental Mindoro; 14,568 ha; 13º10’N 121º11’E. The 5th largest lake in the Philippines (14km by 7km), volcanic in origin, receives water from local run-off with no major effluents. The lake has 14 species of fish, 5 of them migratory, and is an important feeding or wintering area for large numbers of ducks and other waterbirds such as herons, egrets, rails, and bitterns. The rare Plain swamphen (Amaurornis olivaceous) is also found, as well as an endemic species of freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis). Naujan Lake enjoys a humid tropical climate with evenly distributed annual rainfall. Most of the people in the area depend upon the lake for their livelihood, particularly through fishing; the population is composed of the Mangyans, indigenous people of Mindoro including the Tadyawan tribe in the area of the lake, and the "damuong" or non-Mangyans. Fishing is the principle occupation and source of income, but the lake also provides water for drinking, laundry, bathing,and irrigation; moreover, the lake possesses great beauty and has potential for tourism. Ramsar site no. 1008. Most recent RIS information: 1999.

Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary. 01/07/94; Cebu; 5,800 ha; 10º16’N 124º03’E. Wildlife Sanctuary; Shorebird Network Site. A low-lying island surrounded by extensive intertidal sandflats, mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs and islets. One of the most important areas in the country for significant numbers of migratory waterbirds, providing habitat for staging, wintering, roosting and feeding birds. Over 10,000 shorebirds have been recorded at one time, with total numbers approaching 50,000. The most important site in the Philippines for the rare waterbird species Asiatic Dowitcher. Inhabitants are dependent on coastal resources: harvesting sea urchins, fish and commercial shells, for their livelihood. Other economic activities include farming corn, cassava and coconut, and raising livestock. Ramsar site no. 656. Most recent RIS information: 1994.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. 30/06/12; Palawan; 22,202 ha; 10º10’00”N 118º55’00”E. National Park, National Geological Site, ASEAN Heritage Park, UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. Located on the island of Palawan, the site is unique in the biogeographic region because it connects a range of important ecosystems from the mountain-to-the-sea, including a limestone karst landscape with a complex cave system, mangrove forests, lowland evergreen tropical rainforests, and freshwater swamps. It is home to about 800 plant and 233 animal species, including the critically endangered Philippine cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia) and Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate), as well as the endangered Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Nordmann’s greenshank (Tringa guttifer). There are also some 15 endemic species of birds such as the Palawan peacock pheasant (Polyplectron emphanum) and the Tabon scrub fowl (Megapodius freycinet cumingii). One of the unique features of the park is an 8.2 km long section of the Cabayugan River that flows underground within large formations of stalactites and stalagmites. The river provides water to local communities for domestic and agricultural uses, before flowing towards the underground river. The site is a major ecotourism destination, and community-based sustainable ecotourism has been initiated to involve the local communities in Park management as well as to generate income. Ramsar Site no. 2084. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. 12/11/99; Sulu Sea; 96,828 ha; 8°57’N 119°52’E. This Ramsar Site is also a National Marine Park and World Heritage Site, located in the centre of the Sulu Sea. This wetland is an example of an ecosystem with near pristine coral reefs having high diversity with at least 359 species of corals (equivalent to about 80% of all coral species in the Philippines), 600 species of fish, 7 species of seagrass, 13 species of sharks and two species of marine turtles. Being the apex of the Coral Triangle, this biogeographic region has one of the highest coral diversity in the world harbouring threatened species such as the vulnerable Staghorn Coral (Acropora abrolhosensis) and Dana Staghorn Coral (Acropora aculeus) and servers as an important source and sink for not only coral larvae but also fish and other marine species. To date, this site harbours the world’s highest density of white-tip reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus) and supports threatened fish such as the endangered Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) and the vulnerable Giant Grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus). Islets provide the only known breeding area for the endemic subspecies of Black Noddy (Anous minutus worcestri) in the Philippines and act as breeding and feeding grounds for threatended species such as the critically endangered Christmas Island Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi) and the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). Threats to the site include, plans for oil exploration in the Sulu Sea, illegal harvesting of Topshell and introduction of invasive plant species. This biologically rich site, whose total surface substantially increased from 33,628 hectares to 96,828 in 2010, is managed by the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board. Ramsar Site no. 1010. Most recent RIS information: 2010.

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The Convention today

Number of » Contracting Parties: 164 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,087 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 204,803,109

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