Freedom Island, also known as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), is a 175-hectare coastal ecosystem located in Metro Manila, Philippines. It is a bird sanctuary that serves as a refuge for over 80 bird species and other wildlife. This critical habitat is a rare and precious treasure that must be protected and conserved for future generations.
In this blog post, we will explore the history, significance, biodiversity, and ecotourism potential of Freedom Island. We will also discuss the challenges it faces and the efforts being made to preserve it.
Freedom Island was once a dumpsite for Metro Manila’s garbage. It was reclaimed in the 1970s and 1980s by the Philippine Reclamation Authority and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to provide additional land for urban development. However, in 2007, it was declared a critical habitat by the DENR, recognizing its ecological value and the need to protect its biodiversity.
Freedom Island is a crucial stopover site for migratory birds traveling along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. The flyway is a route that spans from Siberia in Russia to Australia and New Zealand, and it passes through many countries, including the Philippines. The island provides a resting and feeding area for these birds, which rely on it for their survival.
The island’s mangrove forests also serve as a natural barrier against storm surges and tsunamis, protecting the nearby communities from flooding and other disasters. The mangroves help stabilize the soil and prevent erosion, and they provide a habitat for many marine and land species.
Freedom Island is home to over 80 bird species, including migratory birds such as the Chinese egret, the black-winged stilt, the common greenshank, the Kentish plover, and the Eurasian curlew. It also supports resident bird species such as the Philippine duck, the Philippine mallard, the common moorhen, the pied avocet, the whiskered tern, and the little tern.
Aside from birds, the island is also a habitat for other wildlife such as marine turtles, mud crabs, mudskippers, fiddler crabs, and various fish species. It is also an important feeding and breeding ground for several endangered and threatened species such as the Philippine duck and the Chinese egret.
Freedom Island’s biodiversity and ecological significance make it an ideal destination for nature lovers and ecotourists. It offers a unique and educational experience for visitors who want to learn more about the island’s ecology and biodiversity. The island has several trails and observation decks that allow visitors to view the birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat.
The island also offers opportunities for kayaking and boating along its mangrove forests and tidal creeks. Visitors can also participate in mangrove planting and other conservation activities organized by various environmental groups.
Challenges and Threats
Despite its ecological importance, Freedom Island faces many threats and challenges. One of the biggest threats is the pollution and waste generated by the nearby communities and industries. The island is located in the middle of Manila Bay, which is heavily polluted, and the garbage and sewage from nearby areas are carried by the tide and end up on the island’s shores.
Another challenge is the encroachment and illegal activities by informal settlers and fisherfolk in the area. These activities contribute to the degradation of the island’s ecosystem and the disturbance of the birds and other wildlife.
Various environmental groups, government agencies, and concerned citizens have been working together to preserve and protect Freedom Island. The DENR
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is the primary government agency responsible for the management and protection of the Philippines’ environment and natural resources. It is mandated to formulate policies and programs for the sustainable development and conservation of the country’s natural resources, including the conservation of biodiversity and critical habitats such as Freedom Island.
One of the DENR’s initiatives to protect Freedom Island is the implementation of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA) management plan. The plan includes measures to prevent pollution, protect the island’s biodiversity, and promote ecotourism. The DENR also conducts regular monitoring and assessment of the island’s ecosystem and works with other government agencies, NGOs, and community organizations to address the challenges it faces.
Environmental groups such as the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) and the Haribon Foundation also play a crucial role in the conservation of Freedom Island. The WBCP conducts regular birdwatching activities on the island and advocates for the protection of its habitat. The Haribon Foundation works with local communities and stakeholders to promote sustainable management practices and raise awareness of the island’s importance.
Freedom Island is a precious gem that must be protected and conserved for future generations. Its ecological significance and biodiversity make it a valuable asset not only for the Philippines but also for the world. As individuals, we can also contribute to the conservation of the island by practicing responsible waste disposal, supporting environmental initiatives, and raising awareness of its importance to our communities and the environment.
We must work together, government agencies, NGOs, and communities alike, to ensure that Freedom Island remains a haven for wildlife and nature lovers and a symbol of our commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable development.