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What are wetlands?

Wetlands are ecosystems that may be natural or artificial and are permanently or seasonally saturated or flooded with water that may be static or flowing. Basically, they refer to any land areas that have waterlogged soil. In Republic Act No. 11038, also known as "Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2018," wetlands refer to:

    1. Inland habitats - marshes, peatlands, floodplains, rivers, and lakes;

    2. Coastal and marine areas - saltmarshes, mangroves, intertidal mudflats and seagrass beds, and also coral reefs and other marine areas no deeper than six (6) meters at low tide; and

    3. Human-made wetlands - dams, reservoirs, rice paddies and wastewater treatment ponds and lagoons.

Wetlands and their ecosystem services

Wetlands are a critical part of our environment. Though commonly seen as wastelands, wetlands are NOT areas that need to be drained, filled in, burnt off, and re-purposed. They are ecosystems that support biodiversity and perform an array of ecosystem services. They provide us with our essential needs such as freshwater and fish. Our shores are protected from tsunamis and storm surges because of them. They reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants, and improve water quality. Wetlands are also home for a wide diversity of life and even support plants and animals that are found nowhere else.

Legal basis

House panel approved substitute bill for "National Wetlands Conservation Act" in substitution of House Bills Numbered 3460 and 8925. This Wetland Bill, if passed into law, is another milestone in addressing the policy gaps for the effective management of our natural resources. This landmark policy shall consolidate the various wetland-related legal provisions dispered in several laws, as there has been no single Philippine legislation that advances the conservation and wise use of wetlands. The proposed bills will address various national issues such as water security, food security, disaster risk reduction, climate change mitigation and resiliency, and maintenance of ecosystem services thereby contributing to our community's health and economic well-being. The national wetland policy will also provide the necessary leagl framework to promote the development of specific guidelines, plans, and programs for the protection and wise use of wetlands contributing to Philippine Sustainable Development Goals and to meet our international commitments to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention on Migratory Speciesm Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, among others.