Wetlands serve as cradles of biological diversity, providing  water and primary productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival and are important storehouses of plant genetic material.   Per Convention on Wetlands definition, wetlands is a collective term for areas permanently inundated with water, whether fresh, brackish or salty, permanent or temporary. It is comprised of lakes,  marshes, swamps, peatlands, rivers, mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds, mudflats, intertidal flats and  even man-made wetlands like rice fields and reservoirs There are 216 lakes; 22 major marshes, swamps and reservoir; and 421 principal rivers  dotting the Philippines landscape  About 32 inland wetlands have been included in the Philippine Biodiversity Priority Setting. Seven (7) of which are now considered Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) while another 14 lakes are considered as Candidate Key Biodiversity Areas (CKBA). Four (4) Philippine wetlands of international importance are recognized under the Ramsar Convention, namely: Tubbataha Reef Natural Park in Palawan, Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu, Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro, and Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Northeastern Mindanao.        

Peatlands have been confirmed in Sab-a basin in Leyte and Agusan Marsh in Mindanao.  Information indicates that peat is also probably present in Ligawasan Marsh in Mindanao, Dolongan area in Basey, Samar, Southern Leyte, Mt. Pulag in Northern Luzon, Surigao del Norte, Northeastern Mindanao, and  Naujan Lake Marshland  (National Action Plan on the Sustainable use and Protection of Peatlands. DENR 2008). These areas will be assessed, validated  and mapped as part of the the targeted activities for CY 2010 and 2011 under the Philippine Component of the ASEAN Peatland Forests Project, being facilitated by Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.



Sustainable Use and Protection of Philippine Peatlands Project 


There are two areas in the Philippines where substantial areas of peat have been found: the Agusan Marsh and the Leyte Sab-a Basin. There has been a lack of targeted surveys for peatlands, but information indicates that there are almost certainly other areas.

The Sab-a Basin is a west-east elongated basin close to the north coast of Leyte separated from it by a metamorphic ridge. The total area is c. 3,088 ha of which 44% has been reclaimed for agriculture. The remaining unutilised peatland (1,740 ha) in the eastern half of the basin consists of small remnant areas of swamp forest and sedge/grass peat swamp (ADB 2000). The two smaller peat basins in the area Daguitan (210 ha) and Kapiwaran (430 ha) have mostly been converted to agricultural land.

 The Agusan Marsh may hold the largest area of peatland in the Philippines. At present, there is no reliable estimate of the area and distribution of peat within Agusan Marsh. Two areas of peatland within the marsh have been confirmed – one just to the north of Bunawan, the vegetation of which has mostly been cleared and burned, and the other to the west of Caimpugan, which exhibits the characteristics of a peat dome, the forest of which is mostly intact except close to the Hibong River. There may be other areas of peat within the marsh, especially in Terminalia copelandii/Metroxylon sagu forests in the northwest portion of the marsh.

 Peat may also be present in the following areas:

  • Ligawasan Marsh in Mindanao, the largest marshland area in the Philippines
  • Dolongan area in Basey, Western Samar (Bureau of Soils, 1975. Soil Survey of Samar Provinces, Philippines. Reconnaissance Soil Survey and Soil Erosion Survey)
  • Southern Leyte (Whitmore1984) as cited in Draft Philippine Plant Conservation Strategy.
  • Mt. Pulag in Northern Luzon (Leonard Co, pers. comm.)
  • Surigao del Norte, Northeastern Mindanao (areas overlying ultramafic rocks) (Edwino Fernando, pers. comm.)
  • Naujan Lake, Mindoro Oriental: herbaceous marshland adjacent to the west of the lake (Arne Jensen pers. comm.)
  • Pangasinan floodplains


PAWB-DENR facilitated the development and publication of the National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use and Protection of Philippine Peatlands. The National Action Plan on Peatlands was drafted within the framework of the ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy. It spells out specific operational objectives and serves as a guide for the implementing agencies and collaborating partners on specific actions that must be undertaken to ensure protection and sustainable se of peatlands in the Philippines.

The IFAD/GEF Project on the "Rehabilitation and Sustainable Use of Peatland Forests in Southeast Asia" was approved by the GEF Council in October 2008 and will commence implementation CY 2009. In the Philippines, the Project focuses on the involvement of key national and local agencies, non-government organizations and the local communities in awareness raising, capacity building and improving multi-stakeholders cooperation for sustainable peatland management.



Reversing Environmental Degradation Trends in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand - Philippine Wetlands Subcomponent

Project Name: Reversing Environmental Degradation Trends in the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand" (a.k.a., the UNEP/GEF South China Sea Project") - Philippine Wetlands Subcomponent
Area Coverage: Wetlands Bordering the South China Sea (coastal wetlands, specifically estuaries, lagoons and tidal flats in Region 1, 3, NCR, 4A, and 4B)
Implementing Agency/ies: DENR - National Focal Agency with EMB as the National Coordination Unit
Dr. Gil Jacinto (UP-MSI) - National Technical Focal Point
Specialized Executing Agencies: EMB (Land-based Pollution Component)
BFAR-NFRDI (Fisheries Component)
PAWB (Coastal Wetlands Subcomponent)
CMMO (Mangroves Subcomponent)
UPMSI (Seagrass and Coral Reefs Subcomponents)
Duration: Phase 1: December 2002 - June 2008; Phase 2 (proposal for implementation still under discussion)

Goals :

  • To create an environment at the regional level that fosters and encourages collaboration and partnership in addressing environmental problems in the SCS;
  • To enhance the capacity if the participating governments to integrate environmental considerations into national development planning
Expected Major Outcomes:
  • a series of national and regional management plans for specific habitats and issues;
  • 9 demonstration management activities at sites of regional and global significance;
  • a regional management plan for maintenance of transboundary fish stocks in the Gulf of Thailand;
  • pilot activities relating to alternative remedial actions to address priority transboundary pollutants and adopted water quality objectives and standards.

Status of Implementation

Phase 1 of the Wetlands Subcomponent already ended on June 30, 2008 while the bigger regional project terminated last January 2009. Terminal report of the project could be downloaded from http:://

Project Accomplishments (of the Wetlands Subcomponent):

  • Creation of the National Committee for Wetlands connected to the South China Sea
  • Assembled a national meta-database and information database which includes
    - review of past and on-going activities
    - identification and characterization of sites
    - review of economic valuation
    - review of national legislation and institutional arrangements
  • These information were reported in the following publications: (view or download HERE)
    - National Report on Wetlands Bordering the South China Sea
    - Review of Legislation and Policies on Philippine Wetlands
    - Philippine Wetlands in the South China Sea: Conservation Priorities
  • Prepared investment proposals for priority sites (Malampaya Sound and Pansipit River Estuary)
  • Developed a national action plan for wetlands in the South China Sea
  • Conducted echo-seminars of the Regional Training Course on the Sustainable Use and Management of Coastal Wetlands

Lessons Learned

  • Information during site-based consultations showed that estuaries, tidal flats and lagoons are among the least-known coastal wetlands. There is no specific mention of these coastal habitats in the coastal resource management plans.
  • There is a lack of a national policy on wetlands. However, issues on some of these wetland types can be addressed through a cornucopia of policies on coastal and marine management.
  • There is a need for an integrated action plan for the conservation of coastal wetlands which includes the other major habitats such as mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs.
  • There is lack of data to support the valuation of coastal wetlands.


Phase II is still in the conceptualization stage.



Integrated Coastal Resource Management Project (ICRMP)

Project Name: Integrated Coastal Resource Management Project (ICRMP)
Area Coverage: Regions II, III, IV-B, VII, XI (Cagayan, Zambales, Romblon, Masbate, Cebu, Siquijor, and Davao Oriental)
Implementing Agency/ies: DENR, DA-BFAR, and 8 partner provinces and 80 municipalities
Duration: June 28,2007 to June 30, 2013

 Objectives :

The overall goal of the project is enhanced coastal resources. The expected outcomes are (1) sustainable management of coastal resources and (2) increased income for coastal communities.

Expected Outputs

 A. Policy environment and legal framework for integrated coastal resources management (ICRM) rationalized, institutional capacities strnghtened, and governance improved.

B. ICRM institutionalized and functionalized and functional at the local levels, and coastal ecosystems and resources in the threatened areas of biodiversity are protected and managed.

C. Alternative and supplementary livelihoods provided

D. Health and social conditions in the coastal communities improved

Expected Outcomes

Sustainable Management of Coastal Resources

  • 10% improvement over baseline in fisheries resources, 10% improvement i hard coral cover, and 20% imrovement in mangrove density i participating municipalities (year 7)
  • 10% increase over baseline in fisherfolk household income (year 7)

Short Description

The Project comprises four components namely : (1) policy and Institutional Strengthening and Development, which will develop an institutional framework for national and local government coordination of ICRM; (2) Integrated Coastal Resources Managment (ICRM) and Biodiversity Conservation, which will protect and manage coastal ecosystems in selected threatened areas of high biodiversity. (3) Enterprise Development and Income Diversification, which intends to provide municipal fisherfolk with supplementary income and reduce their reliance on fishing by promoting environment friendly sustainable enterprises and livelihoods; and (4) Social and Environmental services and facilities, which shall address the basic social services needs of disadvantage coastal comuities, and support local governments efforts to mitigate coastal pollution and degradation of resources.  The project will be implemented in six priority marine biodiversity corridors and ecosystems covering 80 municipalities in seven (7) provinces.  The DENR , the Department of Agriculture, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and participating municipal local governments will share the implementation responsibilities.