About 100 elementary and high school students recently attended a symposium on biodiversity in Socorro, Oriental Mindoro, that focused on wetlands as part of the World Wetlands Day celebration. The Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. organized this symposium, in partnership with the Protected Area Management Office of Naujan Lake National Park and the Municipality of Socorro, on February 3, 2020, at the Municipal Gymnasium of Socorro. The event was graced by the Municipal Vice Mayor Roy De Claro. The participants were students from Mina de Oro Catholic School, Socorro Central School, and Leuteboro National High School.  

Roderick Makiputin, CARE Program Officer of Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. (MBCFI), said the symposium, which carried the theme “Wetlands and Biodiversity” highlighted the importance of Naujan Lake National Park, the fifth largest lake in the Philippines. He focused his presentation on the Philippines and Mindoro biodiversity.

Rayson C. Alfante, Ecosystem Management Specialist of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Naujan Lake National Park- Protected Area Management Office, told the symposium attendees the importance of NLNP as a wetland.

Naujan Lake, with an area of 21,655 hectares, was proclaimed a protected area in 1968 by virtue of a Presidential Proclamation and is recognized as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 1999 and part of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway for migratory birds. It is inside the jurisdiction of four municipalities– Naujan, Pola, Socorro, and Victoria.

The lake provides important ecosystem services to Mindoro, such as wildlife habitat, tourism and livelihood opportunities for the surrounding communities and nearby towns.

Mr. Alfante also added that  “Wetlands act like sponges that absorb floodwaters and function as shock absorbers during typhoons and tsunamis,” Alfante said. He, however, pointed out that wetlands are vanishing three times faster than forests due to several natural and human-made causes such as climate change and pollution compounded by destructive fishing methods and encroaching human settlements brought about by increasing population.

Aside from the talks, the kids from grade school had a coloring activity wherein nine students with best output were selected. Kyle Cielo, CARE Program Manager of MBCFI announced the winners– Angel Asi,  Julia Charisse Ola,  Richer Kuen Magnaye,  Rochelle Mae Velasco,  Khiezel Anne H. Bautista, Jellian Beverly B. Lazo,  John Darrel Acuzar,  and Benedict Reynoso.