International Wetlands Day

Source: http://www.ramsar.org

Every 2nd of February, the world celebrates the International Wetlands Day to re-emphasize the importance of Wetlands in Sustainable Development.  This observance was the result of:

“The Ramsar Convention (formally, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat).  It is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands,[1] recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value. It is named after the city of Ramsar inIran, where the Convention was signed in 1971.” (Source: Wikipedia)

According to the Wikipedia, the convention was developed and adopted by participating nations at a meeting in Ramsar, Mazandaran, Iran, on February 2, 1971, hosted by the Iranian Department of Environment, and came into force on December 21, 1975.

The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance now includes 2208 Sites (known as Ramsar Sites) covering over 210,734,269.41 ha (520,735,720.3 acres). The country with the highest number of Sites is the United Kingdom at 170 and the country with the greatest area of listed wetlands is Bolivia, with over 140,000 km2 (54,000 sq mi).[2] The Ramsar definition of wetlands is fairly wide, including “areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters” as well as fish ponds, rice paddies and salt pans.[3]

Presently there are 169 contracting parties, up from 21 initial signatory nations in 1971. The state parties meet every three years as the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP), the first held in Cagliari, Italy in 1980. Amendments to the original convention have been agreed to in Paris (in 1982) and Regina (in 1987).[4]

There is a standing committee, a scientific review panel, and a secretariat. The headquarters is located in Gland, Switzerland, shared with the IUCN.

Ramsar works closely with five (5) international organizations:

  1.  Birdlife International
  2. IUCN – International Union For Conservation of Nature
  3. IWMI – International Water Management Institute
  4. Wetlands International
  5. WWF International – World Wide Fund

The 2016 International Wetlands Day adopted the theme: Wetlands For Our Future Sustainable Livelihoods.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramsar_Classification.  The poster tells a story.  From the mountains to the sea, the wetlands work for humanity – their beauty, diversity, utility.  As providers of livelihood opportunities for people in the area and as habitat for plants and animals of diverse types and classes, the Wetlands need protection to make it sustainable, not only for the present but also for the future generations.

So, to better appreciate this day, let us begin by discussing what wetlands is all about.

What are wetlands?

According to Ramsar, wetlands are “areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters.” (https:/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramsar_Convention)

Wetlands also include fish ponds, rice paddies, salt pans, marsh, bog, swamps, morass, quagmire, muskeg, slough, fen, fenland, bayou, and bogland, among others.

Rice paddy at Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines. (Source: The National Geographic)

Source:http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/3067447.jpg (Image of rice paddies)

 

Description.  

Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season. Water saturation (hydrology) largely determines how the soil develops and the types of plant and animal communities living in and on the soil. Wetlands may support both aquatic and terrestrial species. The prolonged presence of water creates conditions that favor the growth of specially adapted plants (hydrophytes) and promote the development of characteristic wetland (hydric) soils.

Wetlands vary widely because of regional and local differences in soils, topography, climate, hydrology, water chemistry, vegetation and other factors, including human disturbance. Indeed, wetlands are found from the tundra to the tropics and on every continent except Antarctica. Two general categories of wetlands are recognized: coastal or tidal wetlands and inland or non-tidal wetlands. (Source: http://www.epa.gov)

What are the Components of Wetlands?

The US Environmental and Protection Agency stated the following as components of wetlands.

Components:

  1. Tidal wetlands in the United States, as their name suggests, are found along the Atlantic, Pacific, Alaskan and Gulf coasts. They are closely linked to our nation’s estuaries where sea water mixes with fresh water to form an environment of varying salinities. The salt water and the fluctuating water levels (due to tidal action) combine to create a rather difficult environment for most plants. Consequently, many shallow coastal areas are unvegetated mud flats or sand flats. Some plants, however, have successfully adapted to this environment. Certain grasses and grasslike plants that adapt to the saline conditions form the tidal salt marshes that are found along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. Mangrove swamps, with salt-loving shrubs or trees, are common in tropical climates, such as in southern Florida and Puerto Rico. Some tidal freshwater wetlands form beyond the upper edges of tidal salt marshes where the influence of salt water ends.
  2. Non-Tidal wetlands are most common on floodplains along rivers and streams       (riparian wetlands), in isolated depressions surrounded by dry land (for example, playas, basins and “potholes”), along the margins of lakes and ponds, and in other low-lying areas where the groundwater intercepts the soil surface or where precipitation sufficiently saturates the soil (vernal pools and bogs). Inland wetlands include marshes and wet meadows dominated by herbaceous plants, swamps dominated by shrubs, and wooded swamps dominated by trees. (www.epa.gov)

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Palawan is considered by Ramsar as one of the important Wetlands sites in the Philippines.  (Source: http://www.pre-tend.com/beautiful-places-to-visit-in-philippines/)

The island of Olango which is part of the province of Cebu is also an important wetland site in the Philippines according to Ramsar.  (Source: http://www.beyondcebu.com)

Source: http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/0f/d9/47/0fd9478a38b2845b5b00bb1f0711ecfa.jpg.  This is Candaba wetlands, Pampanga, Philippines. Uploaded by pinterest.com

Certain types of inland wetlands are common to particular regions of the country. A full list can be found here.

Many of these wetlands are seasonal (they are dry one or more seasons every year), and, particularly in the arid and semiarid West, may be wet only periodically. The quantity of water present and the timing of its presence in part determine the functions of a wetland and its role in the environment. Even wetlands that appear dry at times for significant parts of the year — such as vernal pools– often provide critical habitat for wildlife adapted to breeding exclusively in these areas.  (Source: http://www.epa.gov)

Agusan del Sur Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary.  Ramsar identified Agusan del Sur Wetlands as one of the important Ramsar Sites in the Philippines.  (Source: https://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=C211US0D19700101&p=images+of+Agusan+del+sur+Wetlands)

Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary is considered as one of the important Wetland Sites in the Philippines by Ramsar. (Source: s.yimg.com JOJI ALCANTARA Photo.)

Functions & Values of Marshes, Swamps, Bog, Fens, others.

Marshes recharge groundwater supplies and moderate streamflow by providing water to streams. This is an especially important function during periods of drought. The presence of marshes in a watershed helps to reduce damage caused by floods by slowing and storing flood water. As water moves slowly through a marsh, sediment and other pollutants settle to the substrate or floor of the marsh. Marsh vegetation and microorganisms also use excess nutrients for growth that can otherwise pollute surface water such as nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer. (Source: http://www.epa.gov)

Olango Island Wildlfe Sanctuary in Cebu is also in the list of Ramsar as an important Wetlands in the Philippines.  Thank you NILO ARRIBAS, JR. Photo. (Source: ttps://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=C211US1134D20151124&p=Olango+island%2C+cebu)

Functions & Values of Non-Tidal Marshes and other non-tidal wetlands.

Due to their high levels of nutrients, freshwater marshes are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. They can sustain a vast array of plant communities that in turn support a wide variety of wildlife within this vital wetland ecosystem. As a result, marshes sustain a diversity of life that is disproportionate to their size. In addition to their considerable habitat value, non-tidal marshes serve to mitigate flood damage and filter excess nutrients from surface runoff. (Source: http://www.epa.gov)

This is one of the images of wetlands in the Philippines. (Source: walkingnewspaper.com and http://awsassets.panda.org/img/original/auenlandschaft_im_naturreservat_gornje_podunavje_c_jaroslav_pap.jpg.)

What is the importance of wetlands?

According to EPA the US Environmental Protection Agency through its website –  http://www.epa.gov/wetlands/why-are-wetlands-important:

“Wetlands are important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people and for fish and wildlife. Some of these services, or functions, include protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods. These valuable functions are the result of the unique natural characteristics of wetlands.

Hereunder is the link to U.S. EPA on the discussion that focuses on restoration and conservation.

http://www.epa.gov/wetlands/wetlands-restoration-definitions-and-distinctions

Another link stated below refers to the Wetlands Monitoring and Assessment.

http://www.epa.gov/wetlands/wetlands-monitoring-and-assessment

This is the Ilog River Estuary where wetlands can also be found.  It is located in the southern part of Negros Occidental, Philippines. It is the sanctuary of different species of migratory and native birds, wildlife and home to plants.  It also provides livelihood opportunities to the local fisherfolks and farmers.   (Source: scienceray.com or http://s3.amazonaws.com/readers/2012/04/11/2_2.jpg)

Observation/Remark.  To ensure success in the protection and conservation of wetlands, there is a need for community involvement.  Hereunder, a link is provided for you to get some ideas on how a community gets involved in the protection and conservation of their wetlands.  This refers to Volunteer Monitoring.  It also discusses the importance of community volunteers to monitor the different species of fishes and other animals that make the wetlands their habitat and how they can also be protected.

http://www.epa.gov/wetlands/volunteer-monitoring

Comments:

  1.  Wherever you are situated, your country’s wetlands are an important part of your environment.  In it, lies the different species of fishes, wildlife, endangered species of plants and other animals that contribute to a balanced eco-systems.  As previously mentioned, the wetlands have enumerable benefits not only to the soil and living organisms that make it their habitat but more importantly to people who benefits from many resources that the wetlands produce.
  2. As an income generator or livelihood provider,  the Wetlands must be protected and conserved so that eco-tourism, fishery, food production, natural beauty of the locality and sustainable development, as a whole, can be achieved.
  3. For the local community, specifically in Asia and the Philippines, the following programs and projects can be considered to protect and conserve the Wetlands.  a) Survey the existing wetlands in your community;  b) Identify its inhabitants such as fishes, turtles, birds and other animals, kinds of grasses and other forms of life that depend its existence upon this wetland; c) Identify the different uses of the wetland such as fishing, food production, eco-tourism and many others; d) conduct a strategic planning workshop to identify the existing situation of the wetland, its prospects for the future, the ways and means to achieve and reach this future, and strategies and approaches to its sustainable development; e) Identify and motivate the support of the local community by organizing a group of Local Volunteers for the protection and conservation of the wetland; f) Design a Sustainable Development Plan for the Wetland in cooperation with local community, the local officials, the government, and civil society; g) the local Environment Office should take the lead in organizing a Technical Working Group or a Committee that should implement, monitor, evaluate and sustain all activities.
  4. You can adopt this motto to make your work effective – “Act locally and think globally” to protect and conserve a more sustainable wetland. If everybody does it locally, imagine what will the effects be to the world because of this local and then global activities.  It is immensely great. Right?

The Philippines is the home of five (5) important Wetlands Sites identified by the Ramsar. These are:

  1.  Wildlife Sanctuary, Agusan del Sur
  2. Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Cebu
  3. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Palawan
  4. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Natural Park, Palawan
  5. Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecosystem Area.

Other sources mentioned Naujan Lake National Park at Oriental Mindoro.  Here is the photo from chendelmundoMD’s site.

 This is Naujan Lake National Park at Oriental Mindoro. (Source: flyinstyledaily.blogspot.com)

The Philippine government, the Local Government Units such as the Provinces, Cities and Municipalities are actively involved in the forefront as leaders in the conservation and protection of these wetlands.

In closing, Earthniversity would like to emphasize that there are other activities that the community can think of, implement and monitor in order to achieve the local goals of protecting and conserving the Wetlands.
Earthniversity would like to acknowledge its various sources of information in coming up with this discussion. All sources of materials such as texts and photographs used here have been individually cited. Thank you to you all.
Earthniversity does not own these ideas but cites the different sources of information to come up with a more organized presentation regarding the Wetlands and how the people in the community can help to protect and conserve these Wetlands.
We hope this will be helpful to you. Have a nice day.

 

 

 

MOTHER EARTH SONG

Earthniversity

In the celebration of Earth Day on April 22, 2015, Earthniversity would like to re-post this video. Hoping that this will inspire the readers to engage in activities that can protect and conserve the environment.

For LGUs (local government units) and communities around the world, the following programs and projects can be implemented in your local community to support the Earth Day celebration. These are the following:

1. Tree planting in selected areas which were identified by your local environment office.  This included mangroves tree planting.

2. Clean-up Drive along the coastal areas, river sides, creeks, waterways, parks, forest areas frequented by tourists who left the rubbish there.

3. Conduct of information, education and community consultation, workshop, or symposium on topics relevant to the protection and conservation of the environment.

4. Other activities you deem fit for your local community.

Earthniversity would like to recognize BlueGreenEarth for uploading this video…

View original post 60 more words

Estuaries: Breathing Life That Reverberates The Future, Lecture Series #5

DSCF2230DSCF2208DSCF2210DSCF2212DSCF2192Hello everybody.  Today, our discussion will focus on the topic Estuary.  The Philippine Archipelago is composed of 7,641 (NAMRIA) islands. Originally, there were 7,107 island in the Philippines but in 2016, the National Mappring and Resource Information Authority, reported that there were 534 new islands discovered mostly found in Mindanao. Most islands in the country have cities or towns that are located near an Estuary.  It is therefore of  utmost importance that people in the community and most specially the LGU or Local Government Unit, must strengthen their approaches to conserve and protect these Estuaries.

Join me, today, as I travel the road less traveled.  Why? Because not everybody is willing to talk about it.  Estuaries can be a boring topic.  So, let’s just think of it as the most beautiful place on earth where our future depends on.   It may sound corny but let me begin.

What is an Estuary?

  1.   It is the tidal mouth of a large river, where the tide meets the stream.  (www.epa.gov/…/estuaries)
  2.  It is usually found where rivers meet the sea. (National Oceania and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce)
  3. Freshwater Estuary is similar to brackish water estuary.
  4. Estuaries are delicate ecosystem.  It can be adversely affected by pollution, weather, human activities and encroachment into the habitat of several species of plants and animals.
  5. It is a semi-enclosed portion of ocean that is somewhat isolated by land and in which freshwater and salt water mix. (core.ecu.edu/geology/woods/estuariesl.htm)

Etymology of the word Estuary. The word estuary originated from Latin words aestus meaning tide and aestuarium meaning tidal part of a shore.  In 16th century it became estuary. How do Estuaries differ from other Oceanic environments?   (core.ecu.edu/geology/woods/estuariesl.htm – East Carolina University)

  1. The enormous daily and seasonal variability in salinity and temperature.
  2. Depth – Estuaries are shallow compared to ocean.
  3. Salinity – varies with tides and season.  In the Philippines,  flooding during typhoons and rainy season can influence the salinity of Estuaries because of an increased river run-off from the uplands.
  4. Temperature is influenced by the: a) depth of the estuaries, for example – shallow estuaries may manifest variable temperature;  b) Tidal currents;  c) different seasons for example during winter, ice may form in the water.  In most of Asia and the Philippines where seasons are mostly wet and dry, rainy season and dry season can influence the temperature of the estuaries that will also affect the inhabitants in it.

Classification of Estuaries     According to the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden Website, the following are the  classification of  Estuaries.

  1. Coastal-plain estuaries are basically drowned river valleys where the present sedimentation rate is not in pace with the post-glacial inundation.  The bathymetry is still similar to the ancient river valley and sand bars and banks are still developing.  The relative age is then quite low.
  2. Fjords – formed from ice age valley glaciers that broadened and deepened the valley floor.  At the mouth large amount of sediments (terminal moraines) were deposited creating a very shallow sill into the fjord when the glaciers retreated.  Some sills are not deeper than a couple of meters whereas the depth within the fjords usually ranges up to a couple of hundred meters.  Since the sediment flux is usually very low, the bathymetry very deep, the fjords are generally assumed to have a very low relative age.  Fjords is described as a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, as in Norway and Iceland, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley.
  3. Bar-built estuaries – are strictly speaking also drowned river valleys but in this case the sedimentation rate is in pace with the inundation, creating a more mature estuarine type.  Across the mouth of the estuary is a bar where waves break and that is formed by deposited sediments.  The estuary is in steady state in the sense that even if occasional storm events break the bar a similar one is quickly created after the event.  This type of estuary is associated with tropical climate and rivers with high sediment loads. (google search – the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden)
  4. Tectonic Estuary – the tectonic shifting together and rifting apart of the Earth’s crust, creates tectonic estuaries.  Example is California’s San Francisco Bay.  The San Francisco Bay lies at the junction of the San Andreas fault and the Hayward fault.  The complex tectonic activity in the area has created earthquakes for thousands of years.  The San Andreas fault is on the coastal side of the bay, where it meets the Pacific Ocean at a strait known as the Golden Gate.  The Hayward fault lies on the East Bay, near where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers enter the estuary.  The interaction of the San Andreas and Hayward faults contributes to the downwarping, the process of an area of the Earth sinking. (http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/estuary/?ar_a=1)

Estuaries Circulation

According to Wikipedia, Estuarine water circulation is controlled by the inflow of rivers, the tides, rainfall and evaporation, the wind, and other oceanic events such as an upwelling, and eddy and storms.  Water circulation patterns are influenced by vertical mixing and stratification and can affect residence time and exposure time.

Residence Time water is a key variable in determining the health of an estuary, particularly from human-induced stresses.  Rapid flushing ensures that there is insufficient time for sediment accumulation or dissolved oxygen depletion in the estuary, thus a well flushed estuary is intrinsically more robust than a poorly flushed estuary.

Exposure Time is the amount of time a water particle spends in the estuary until it never returns.  The exposure time can be much larger than the residence time if the water particles are leaving with the ebb tides and returning with the rising tide. (enwikipedia.org/wiki/Estuarine_water_circulation)

At this time, I hope this part of the Lecture has given you more background information about estuaries.  The more we know about it, the more we can think of approaches to protect and conserve our estuaries.  Different countries have different experiences and challenges on how they can protect and conserve their estuaries.  I hope this part of the Lecture will help you and your community.   To continue, let us talk about the importance of estuaries.

Importance of Estuaries

  1. Source of food
  2. Recreation
  3. Jobs
  4. Coastal Protection
  5. Navigable harbors or waterways for transfer of food, raw materials, manufactured goods, recycled products, movement of people, and tourism.
  6. Commercial fishing, among others. (NOAA and core.ecu.edu/geology/woods/estuariesl.htm)
  7. Habitat or natural home of various species of endemic and endangered species of plants, animals and microorganisms.
  8. Breeding ground of various species.

If in your specific community there emerge another reason why Estuaries are Important, please feel free to add it.  If you can write me a note the better.  Thank you.

Challenges to Estuaries

According to the United States Environmental Protection Ageny or EPA, these challenges are the following.  These challenges are the product of research, study by experts, scientists and employees of the U.S. governmental agencies. (water.epa.gov/type/oceb/nep/challenges.cfm)

  • Alteration of natural hydrologic flows . People alter the environment through activities like development (Philippine experience – reclamation projects), construction of dams, flood control structures, and diversions of water, we change the volume and rate that water runs off the landscape, into the ground, and into streams.  Increased runoff can result in erosion and sedimentation.  Changes in freshwater inflows to estuaries can adversely affect shellfish survival, and fish reproduction and distribution.
  • Aquatic Nuisance Species.  ANS can disturb the food webs in the estuary and they can also cause the decline in various species of plants and animals.
  • Climate Change.  Many coastal wetlands and other estuarine habitats are threatened by inundation and erosion as the rate of sea-level rise accelerates.  Climate change will also increase stresses to habitat and fish and wildlife populations as temperatures rise.  Water quality problems are likely to worsen in estuarine waters if more extreme precipitation events create increased polluted runoff.
  • Declines in fish and wildlife populations. The many stresses on estuaries have corresponding impacts on fish and wildlife.  As their habitats disappear, the food they depend upon decreases and water quality degrades.  Invasive species provide added pressures, replacing many of our native plants and animals.
  • Habitat loss and degradation. The health of marine and estuarine systems, and the human economies that depend on them, rely on high-quality habitats that provide essential food, cover, migratory corridors, and breeding/nursery areas for coastal and marine wildlife.  For humans, healthy coastal habitats attract the tourism revenues and seafood industries that are vital to many local economies.  These habitats also function to make coastal areas more resilient to storms and sea level rise.  As coastal population increased, coastal habitats have been converted due to development, highway construction, diking, dredging, filling, bulk heading, and other activities that degrade coastal ecosystems.
  • Nutrient Loads.  Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are necessary for growth of plants and animals and support a healthy aquatic ecosystem. In excess, however, nutrients can contribute to fish disease, red or brown tide, algae blooms, and low dissolved oxygen. Sources of nutrients include point and non-point sources such as sewage treatment plant discharges, stormwater runoff, faulty or leaking septic systems, sediment in urban runoff, animal wastes, atmospheric deposition originating from power plants or vehicles, and groundwater discharges.When excess nutrients lead to low dissolved oxygen levels, marine animals with little mobility can die; others must leave the hypoxic zones for more oxygenated waters.
  • Pathogens.  These are disease-causing microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites that can create health risks for people enjoying recreation in and on the water.  Pathogens can be introduced into estuaries from inadequately treated sewage, runoff from urban areas and animal operations, medical waste, boat and marina waste, combined sewer overflows, and waste from pets and wildlife. They pose a health threat to swimmers, divers, and seafood consumers.
  • Stormwater.  Its runoff is generated when precipitation from rain and snowmelt events moves across the landscape without percolating into the ground.  As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), ig accumulates debris, chemicals, sediments or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged untreated.
  • Toxics.  This include metals, such as mercury, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and pesticides enter waterways through storm drains, industrial discharges, runoff from lawns, streets, and farmlands, discharges from sewage treatment plants, and atmospheric deposition.  If consumed by humans, organism that are exposed to these toxics can pose a risk to human health.  Wildlife and aquatic plants and animals can also be harmed by consuming contaminated fish and water.

At this time, we were discussing what the EPA had been doing.  The ideas that we got from other countries can be replicated in our Local Government Units or LGUs or in our respective communities.  For sure, our national laws are in placed but its implementation, as far as, developing countries are concerned may need a little “teeth”.   Perhaps, it is nice to know what other countries are doing so we can learn from their Best Practice.  How did they do that? This is a question that is relevant when we are referring to new knowledge and technology, and knowing this can be a great help to our local situations.  Now, let us  continue with the discussion which will focus on approaches to protect and conserve our local estuaries.

The Philippines have several cities and towns that are located in the coastal areas and most probably near the estuaries.  The City of Manila has several estuaries that dumps to Manila Bay.  These estuaries have been polluted for several decades that fish, plants and other animals can hardly survive the murky and dirty waters of these estuaries.   Many years ago, the cleaning up of Pasig River have been on-going and already changed the looks of the river – no more garbage floating on the river.  Well, occasionally a few can be seen floating.  This is thrown by hard headed riverside dwellers and factories along the river.  Example of cities with estuaries are the following:

  1. Puerto Princesa Underground River Estuaries, Palawan, Philippines – Eco-tourism, National Heritage Site,  U.N. Heritage Site, currently one of the world’s  7 Wonders of Nature, Home to 20 Million year-old Serenia (sea cow) fossil (La Venta Esplorazioni Geografiche, Italy)
  2. Manila and Pasig River, Philippines – shipping, commerce, etc.
  3. Cebu River Estuaries, fishing, commerce
  4. Ilog River Estuary, Negros Occidental, Philippines – fishing
  5. Quinaorian River at Victorias City, Philippines – shipping
  6. Himamaylan River, Negros Occidental, Philippines – fishing, oyster culture
  7. New York and Hudson River Estuary – Hudson River estuary stretches 153 meters inland from the Atlantic Ocean. It is home to 200 species of fish, nursery ground of Sturgeon, Striped Bass and American Shad.  It supports other wildlife such as birds. (To read more about its various programs and projects, please check the link found in the succeeding paragraph.)
  8. Caete Estuary, Brazil
  9. Mondego Estuary of Portugal, located in South Eastern Atlantic Coast of Europe.  It serves the shipping, fishing shipyard, small industries, salt production and tourism activities.
  10. City of Nantes, France, where River Loire begins to meet the Atlantic Ocean. (To read more about its tourism promotion and beautification program, please check the link found in the succeeding paragraph)
  11. Shanghai, China – is located in the River Yangtze Estuary.  (www.google.com/search?q=images+of+cities+located+near+estuaries)

(Citation:  Thank you to denr10org – the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through Mon Paje for sharing this video on youtube.  The voting has already been done and PPUR has already been declared as one of the 7 Wonders of Nature.  The video was placed here to support the discussion about PPUR as one of the most unique underground Estuaries in the world.)

Comments:

  • Estuaries are assets of a country, city or town where it is located.  It is an asset because it could be navigable and therefore used in commerce and trade and to a certain extent, global tourism. 
  • As habitat of various species of plants and animals, Estuaries provide a source of food while at the same time serve as nursery ground for endemic and endangered species of plants and animals.
  • Estuaries can serve the sports, recreation and tourism purposes of a LGU where it is located.
  • Estuaries provide job and job opportunities.
  • Estuaries can serve as coastal protection.
  • Estuaries can do other things, I may not be able to list down here.

Now, therefore, ways and means should be formulated to conserve, protect and beautify these Estuaries not only for sustainability and other purposes previously discussed, but for aesthetic purposes as well.  

Best Practice:

1.  The City of New York and the Hudson River Estuary

Link:

http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/4920.html

2.  Nantes City and River Loire, France

Link:

http://sustainablecitiescollective.com/kaidbenfield/103626/elephant-estuary-does-2013-european-green-capital-have-something-teach-us-cities

On Relevance and Sustainability 

As what the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future stated, sustainable development is the “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”   (Adams, W. M. Green Development, 3rd Edition, New York, p.5)

Estuaries are relevant to the life and existence of human beings for reasons previously mentioned. For various species of plants and animals Estuaries is an important habitat that needed conservation and protection too.

For programs and projects to be sustainable, there must be an improvement on the level or status of the following indicators formulated by the UN, CSD, this is the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.  These are:

  • Poverty
  • Governance
  • Health
  • Education
  • Demographics
  • Natural hazards
  • Atmosphere
  • Land
  • Oceans, seas and coasts
  • Freshwater
  • Biodiversity
  • Economic development
  • Global economic partnership
  • Consumption and production patterns

Just to mention a few, Poverty.  When poverty level is reduced, Estuaries can be protected from over exploitation and pollution, among others.  Another is government.  When government provides efficient and effective infrastructure support, implementation of laws, and continuous research and development on how to conserve and protect the Estuaries, the higher is the chances that programs and projects for the conservation and protection of Estuaries can succeed.   So,  it is in designing sustainable development of Estuaries that the LGU or the community enhance the relevance and put more meaning to the conservation and protection of Estuaries.

Look for this link for more readings:

http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/natlinfo/indicators/guidelines.pdf

Suggested Activities for Towns and Cities

  • Estuary Conservation and Protection Program needs a boost among Local Government Units in the third world or even in developing countries.  Two of the best sources of “tried and tested” programs and projects are the Nantes City in France and New York City in the United States.  Their Best Practices can be a source of many ideas that can be replicated in our towns, cities and communities where Estuaries are important source of food, tourism, jobs, livelihood, recreation, and conservation and protection of endemic and endangered species of plants and animals.  Check the links I provided here so you can check what activities you can replicate in your LGU or Commnity.
  • Conduct a Strategic Planning Workshop on the Conservation and Protection of Estuary in your LGU.  Through this StratPlan you will know the real situations in your LGU as far as this Estuary is concerned.  You can raise the following questions:

1)  Who Are We?

2)  Where Are We Now?

3)  Where Are We Going?

4)  How Are We Going To Get There?

These four (4) questions can provide so much information to enable you to arrive at a list of Programs and Projects and an Action Plan that will be formulated by the stakeholders themselves.   People who are directly benefited and affected by this Estuary are the right people to be involved with other members of the community in attendance.

  • Conduct a workshop on Solid Waste Management and Disposal with focus on the 4 Rs-reduce, reuse, recycle and rot or composting.
  • Conduct a River Clean Up Project
  • Conduct a River Life Project
  • Encourage your LGU to establish the Landfill Site, Sewage Treatment Facility, Material Recovery Facility and Composting Facility to minimize the landing of polluted water and garbage to the ocean and the waterways like rivers, creeks and canals.
  • Organize a volunteer such as Green Army for the conservation and protection of the Environment
  • Organize a Blue Army for the conservation and protection of the waterways like rivers, coastal areas, inland waters and estuaries, among others.
  • Organize a Brown Army for the implementation of anti-littering and illegal disposal of garbage at any places in your community more specifically the waterways like rivers, creeks, canals, the estuaries, among others.
  • Organize a 4-Rs Brigade to encourage people in the community to practice the 4 Rs – reuse, reduce, recycle and rot or composting and by encouraging the people in the community to avail the services of the MRF or Material Recovery Facility rather than “throwing” these recoverable materials to the rivers and other waterways.
  • Encourage your LGU to hire an expert on Estuarine Science.
  • YOU CAN ADD WHATEVER YOU THINK ARE DOABLE AND HELPFUL IN THE CONSERVATION AND PROTECTION OF OUR ESTUARIES.

Every Local Government Unit and the Local Community, most specially the Stakeholders who shall enjoy and benefit from these doable programs and projects to protect and conserve our Estuaries in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world, have a bigger responsibility to make these programs and projects into reality.  

Designing sustainable development programs and projects and implementing them will not only transform and maintain these estuaries into a healthy waterways and habitat of endemic and endangered species of plants and animals but will continue to provide food, jobs, livelihood and tourism among others.  That initiative will also create something meaningful  not only for the present generation but also for the generations to follow.

References:

Photos by:  Henry Libo-on, Puerto Princesa Underground River Estuary, Palawan, Philippines.  The New 7 Wonders of Nature.  Photo was taken about 12 hours after the rain.  There was rain that midnight, so, the water was not crystal clear or turquoise blue.

Updated February 13, 2017….(HCL)

Inland Waters and the Local Community, Lecture Series #4

Bago River, Minoyan, Murcia, Philippines

Bago River, Minoyan, Murcia, Philippines

Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin, Eden Hills, Rockbridge, Massachussetts

Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin, Eden Hills, Rockbridge, Massachussetts

DSCF1374

Today’s topic will focus on Inland Waters.  The discussion is part of a series of lectures-0n-line from Earthniversity.  This is also a continuing advocacy on the issues that face our planet Earth, specifically those major categories listed in our “About” page.   To a certain extent, inland waters are much protected in some developed countries.  The challenge of conservation and protection of Inland Waters is a reality in other countries and most probably in the Third World countries where resources for its protection and conservation is wanting.  Specifically, on the sides of the rivers, lakes, bays, creek, canals and estuaries, encroachment of human settlements faces a big challenge for the Local Government Units.

In most cases, these settlements  contribute to the pollution of inland waters when residents dump their garbage on it.   Flooding,  contamination of mine tailing if a mining exploration is present in the community, over exploitation such as sucking of water by irrigation pumps, and many others, are not the only threats to the health of Inland Waters but the invasion of certain species of organisms – flora or fauna that may damage if not destroy its biodiversity.

So, how could these inland waters be conserved or protected?  Before we tackle on these issues let me first present a few backgrounder.

Water is the result of  hydrologic cycle.   It is described as “the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth.  The mass water on Earth remains fairly constant overtime but the partitioning of water into the major reservoirs of ice, fresh water, saline water and atmospheric water is variable depending on the wide range of climatic variables.  The water moves from one reservoir to another such as, from rivers to the ocean or from the ocean to the atmosphere, by physical processes of evaporation, condensation,  precipitation, infiltration, runoff and subsurface flow. In so doing, the water goes through different phases – Liquid, Solid (ice) and gas (vapor).”   (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)

When the water falls to the ground, it will seek its level, forcing it to form inland waters such as lake, pond, basin and others.  Water flowing from the upland may flow through the channels of river systems, creeks, canals and others.  For bigger rivers where its upland source of water is so huge the LGU may capture it in the form of a dam and process it as electricity, potable water and irrigation. Examples are Angat Dam and Ambuklao Dam in the Philippines.  Hoover Dam in the state of Nevada, which I visited a few years ago.

According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Inland Waters are aquatic-influenced environments located within land boundaries. This includes those located in the coastal areas, even where adjacent to marine environments. Inland water systems can be fresh, saline or a mix of the two – brackish water. In other countries, inland waters maybe located in the interior part of the country or huge body of land but it is saline and another inland waters located near the coastal area but the water is fresh.

According to the government website of the United Kingdom, the link is cited at the end of this page, “Inland Waters include any area of water not categorised as “sea” example: canals, tidal and non-tidal rivers, lakes and some Estuarial  Waters (an arm of sea that extends inland to meet the mouth of a river.)”  

Example of Inland Rivers that are used for navigation are: Mississipi River and Hudson River in the U.S.  Pasig River and Agusan River in the Philippines.  In my province Negros Occidental, there are a few rivers that are navigable such as: Quinaorian River in Victorias City,  Bago River, Talubangi River, Ilog River, Sicaba River and Himoga-an River, among others.   Tributaries of these rivers are the uplands, passing through several farmlands and dump into the Visayan Sea in the East, Guimaras Strait in the West and Sulu Sea in the South of Negros Occidental. Himoga-an River in Sagay is also a tourism destination because of their 2-hour river cruise.

Classified as Inland Water, Ilog River in Negros Occidental is also an estuary linked to Barangay Andulawan and Barangay Bocana waterways.  It is the home of various species of resident and migratory birds and wildlife.  A few are endemic and endangered species.

The Free Dictionary by Farlex describes Inland Waters as follows:

“canals, lakes, rivers, water courses, inlets, and bays that are nearest to the shores of a nation and subject to its complete sovereignty. Inland waters, also known as internal waters, are subject to the total sovereignty of the country as much as if they were an actual part of its land territory. A coastal nation has the right to exclude foreign vessels, subject to the right of entry in times of distress. Whether or not particular waters are to be regarded as inland waters has traditionally been dependent upon historical and geographical factors. Certain types of shoreline configurations have been regarded as confining bodies of water, such as bays. In addition, there has been a recognition that other areas of water that are closely connected to the shore may be regarded as inland waters based upon the manner in which they have been treated by the coastal nation, although they do not meet any exact geographical test. Historic title to inland waters can be claimed only in situations when the coastqal nation has asserted and maintained dominion and control over those waters.”

What are the possible threats to inland waters?

Rivers, creeks, water courses, inlets, bays, canals and other forms of inland waters face possible threats from pollution such as garbage, chemicals from nearby  farms using fertilizers, factories, uncontrolled multiplication of other organisms in the water like water lilies, the rushing of mine tailing to inland waters, floods and so on and so forth pose a great threats to inland waters.

Book Abstract on Inland Waters  taken from the book entitled, Aquatic Conservation by W.D. Williams.

I placed hereunder the Abstract of this book. It focuses on Conservation of Inland Waters, Management of Inland Waters, Community Groups, and Public Participation.

Abstract:

1. Many international and national bodies have stressed the need for community participation in the conservation and management of inland waters. Community participation is needed for three basic reasons: to implement management measures difficult to enforce without community support; to act as a mechanism in protecting inland waters through support of conservation bodies; and, through voluntary actions, to monitor, restore and rehabilitate inland water-bodies.

2. It is important to conserve and manage inland waters because of their many values and uses. To participate fully in conservation and management measures, the community needs to (a) recognize the importance of inland waters as a part of the global hydrological cycle, (b) have some knowledge of the nature and effects of major human impacts on inland waters, and (c) be aware of certain legal issues.

3. The ‘community’ is heterogeneous in nature but community groups of similar interest can be recognized. They vary from small, local action groups, through national groups to international bodies. They provide advice to and support government actions; others oppose and seek to change government actions. Community involvement can be at various levels, from the relatively inactive to the vigorously proactive.

4. Environmental education of the community should begin in childhood, continue at school and other educational institutions, and last throughout life. Information on the conservation and management of inland waters is available from many sources, but a powerful, modern source is the World Wide Web.

5. Four case studies are discussed with particular reference to community participation: Lake Washington and Mono Lake in the US (successful outcomes), the Aral Sea in central Asia and Lake Pedder in Australia (unsuccessful outcomes). Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.  (Reference cited at the bottom of this page)

Is there any way humans can do to conserve and protect Inland Waters?

Precisely there is.  Local laws and cooperation between government and stakeholders can improve the chances of Inland Waters from becoming healthy and promote the conservation and protection of Inland Waters for the use of the present as well as the future generations. If you are thinking  of doing a project to begin with your local community, you can read your local environment code or any environment plan of your LGU, local government unit – town, city, province.  These documents have data where you can base your local initiative or project.

For example:  Inland Waters Conservation and Protection Project may focus on rivers, creeks, water inlets, lakes and others.  The most common project but very laudable one is Waterways Clean-Up Project.  The public information campaign to educate the local residents about the four R’s could also help minimize the landing of rubbish or garbage into the waterways.  In this activity, the local community will learn the value of reuse, reduce, recycling and rot or composting.  You can look for volunteers with expertise on these topics to talk about the 4 R’s.

You may also involve the expertise of local waterworks personnel as resource person on watershed conservation and protection.  On the higher level, sewage treatment and water treatment issues can be discussed with the local community and local government officials on what strategies to take to put these facilities in place. One best practice that can be used as a model here is the  Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre located in Australian Capital Territory – Canberra.  (ACTEW Website)

Sewage Treatment.  Sewerage treatment is a complex process where sewage is treated to remove poisonous or toxic substances. Solids are separated out and the remaining water is cleaned for release back into the natural water cycle. Many different approaches to wastewater treatment exist around the world.

In Canberra, the main sewage treatment plant is the Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre (LMWQCC) where sewage is treated and released into the Molonglo River. It then flows into the Murrumbidgee River and drains into the Murray-Darling Basin river system, ultimately discharging into the ocean south of Adelaide. Water leaving this plant has been thoroughly treated, so it returns to the natural water cycle free of pollution and can be reused by other towns further downstream, specifically the farmers.  Other organisms in the rivers have a feast on clean waters flowing in the river.  I saw how a platipus enjoyed the river at Queanbeyan City, NSW, Australia.

In 2000, our Professor for Designing Sustainable Development from the University of Canberra took us on a field trip to Molonglo. It was a surprise for me to learn that from Canberra’s Molonglo water treatment facility, the water flows down to South Australia, specifically the capital Adelaide which faces the Southern Ocean.  I was in Adelaide for a short visit to my mother and sisters. I saw a few rivers where Canberra’s water reaches in the south benefiting not only farmers but tourists who ride the river cruise over clean waters.

Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin (KBDB)

 The State of Massachussetts identified the KBDB as an ACEC or Area of Critical Environmental Concern.  ACEC is a conservation program in Western Massachusetts  managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Kampoosa is a low and marshy land that is frequently flooded.  As a Bog, it is also a muddy ground, too soft to support a heavy body.   Never attempt to walk on the bog.  It is also known as a Fen – a low and flooded area.  It is approximately 1,35o acres and located in the towns of Lee and Stockbridge in Western Massachussetts.  I have been to one of these bogs or fens, specifically in Eden Hills, Stockbridge when I visited the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy.  Incidentally, the ground zero of KBDB happens to be in this Marian Order’s property.

When I saw this area in Eden Hills, it immediately caught my eyes, because I thought of the different species of plants and animals that make this bog as their habitat and is this a protected area?  These were the thoughts that were running through my head  as I survey the place with my eyes.   Scientists refer to KBDB, technically, a Lake Basin Graminoid (grass-like) Calcareous Fen.  Due to its critical ecological importance it is now a protected and preservation area because it is the habitat of 19 rare species of plants and animals.  (Energy and Environmental Affairs, Massachussetts.Gov website)

For me, this is a Best Practice that can be replicated in any LGU (Local Government Unit) specifically in my country, the Philippines.  The Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin also reminded me of Ilog River Estuaries in Negros Occidental.  It is the home of migratory and resident birds which scientists believed to be endemic and endangered species.

If you wish to know more about KBDB this is the link   –  www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/conservation/acec/kampoosa-bog-drainage-basin.html

Suggested Activities:

A Strategic Planning Workshop on the Protection and Conservation of Inland Waters may  be conducted by the LGU or a volunteer organization to enable the community to produce its own plan involving all the stakeholders which also include the community where the Inland Waters may be located.  In the Strat Plan, specific programs and projects can be listed and how it should be implemented will be stated. Focus will be on the Protection and Conservation of Inland Waters.
Tapping the resources of foreign governments.  Implementation of programs and projects that deal with the protection and conservation of Inland Waters may be too costly for any LGU specially in the Third World countries.   But, they can also look at the several “windows” of  grants or loans from  foreign governments through their embassies, specifically those  environment related programs and projects.  This grant or maybe an extension of Loan will require a capability building or  training component for the project personnel.
In 1998, Bacolod City participated in the PRMDP-AusAID Project.  Included in this project is the Public Information Campaign on Solid Waste Management with focus on the 4 Rs. Waterways clean up was also conducted.  A ten-year solid waste management plan was also completed.  A Feasibility Study on the improvement of the city’s drainage system was also prepared.     In its Comprehensive Land Use Plan, a proposal for a Sewage Treatment Facility was suggested by the city stakeholders to be constructed along the city property located near the coastal area of Jalandon.  Water leaving this facility will be returned to the sea as clean water.  The same principle that was done in Canberra’s Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre.
In the province of Negros Occidental as well as in the Central Visayas and other parts of the country, several programs and projects designed to protect and conserve the Inland Waters had been conducted and sustained by their respective LGUs through their Environment and Management Office.  But those lacking in implementation is the focus of this initiative.  Something has to be done by concerned groups in the community.
Finally, there are so many ways and means where you can be a part of the solution to conserve and protect Inland Waters.  Your leadership in your local community may make a difference.  Why not start mobilizing your community towards doable plans and implement them with the support from the community?  Your acts today will benefit not only the present generation but the future generations too.
References:

ACTEW  Canberra, Australia, Website

Comprehensive Land Use Plan of Bacolod City, Philippines

Convention on Biological Diversity website

The Free Dictionary by Farlex.

https://www.gov.uk/inland-waterways-and-categorisation-of-waters

Williams, W. D. (2002), Community Participation in Conserving and Managing Inland Waters. Aquatic Conservation: Mar.Freshw.Ecosyst.,12:315-326.doi:10.1002/aqc.510

http://www.cbd.int/water/inland-waters

Wikiepedia, The Free Encyclopedia

http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/conservation/acec/kampoosa-bog-drainage-basin.html

Abbreviation:

PRMDP-AusAID – Philippine Regional Municipal Development Project-Australian Agency for International Development

Photos by Henry Libo-on

1.  Bago River, Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental, Philippines.

2.  Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin, Eden Hills, Stockbridge, Massachussetts