Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat (LPPCHEA)
The last vestige of the urban coastal wetlands, which originally lined the coasts of the metropolis of Manila, lies between the municipalities of Las Piñas and Parañaque. This is the Las-Piñas Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), a nature reserve situated south of Manila Bay. Open to the general public, the area offers visitors a welcome respite from all the buzz and fuss of urban living, all without leaving the city.
Established in 2007 thru Presidential Proclamation No. 1412 as amended, LPPCHEA is the first critical habitat to be declared in the country. Covering around 175 hectares of wetland ecosystem, LPPCHEA consists of two (2) islands - Freedom Island and Long Island - with mangroves, ponds and lagoons, mudflats, salt marshes, and mixed beach forest all over. This complex of coastal wetlands was the result of an unfinished reclamation project in the early 70s. The human-made ecosystem had become the home of a diverse array of wild birds, which arrives every year, during winter months in the Northern Region, to rest and feed.
On March 15, 2013, LPPCHEA was included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance of the Ramsar Convention (as a Ramsar Site) because of the critical role it plays in the survival of threatened, restricted-range and congregatory bird species, as well as for the uniqueness and significance of the habitats that the area supports. An important resting and refueling stop for migratory birds using the East Asian - Australasian migratory flyway, LPPCHEA hosts around 47 species of migratory birds in the area, with some coming from as far as China, Japan and Siberia, including the vulnerable Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes and more than 1% of the estimated global population of Black-Winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus. The most important of the resident bird species is the vulnerable Philippine Duck Anas luzonica which breeds at the site.
During migration season - i.e. between the months of August and April each year - the area is transformed into a feeding and resting area for migratory birds making their way to the warmer regions of the globe. During these times, the number of birds seen roosting and feeding in the area reach as high as 5,000 heads per day according to surveys conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - National Capital Region (DENR-NCR) and Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP).
photo credit: DENR National Capital Region