The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) of Rizal conducted its Annual Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) along the selected lakeshore areas within five barangays in the municipalities of Jala-Jala and Pililla, Rizal identified as key sites for wild migratory birds in Laguna Lake.

The AWC team was led by the Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) of Pamitinan Protected Landscape and Hinulugang Taktak Protected Landscape, For. Zosima Belen, and PENRO Rizal Conservation and Development Section Chief, For. April De Rota, and was composed of selected personnel who are licensed Foresters, GIS Experts, and Biologists.

The team was able to identify and determine the species and the conservation status of the waterbirds observed in the sites including Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida) with the most count of 108 heads, 50 heads of Black-winged stilts (Himantopus himantopus), and 14 heads of Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis).

The most common forms of threats on the wetland and the waterbirds were also noted during the census, most of which were human-induced such as industrial and solid waste pollution, and agricultural and fishing activities in and around the lake. All of these were labeled by the team as high levels of threats.

AWC was initially conducted in the Indian Subcontinent in 1987. Over the years, the conduct of the said census has been rapidly adopted in other countries in Asia. In line with the international census of waterbirds, AWC aims to build and strengthen the national network of census volunteers and facilitate the training of such volunteers as well.

PENRO Rizal will submit to the DENR Regional Office and the Biodiversity Management Bureau the findings and observations collected during the AWC, to be part of the department’s collective efforts and contribution to the international census.###