MANILA -- The Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands, Inc. (SCPW) is set to launch its wetlands-focused BioBlitz initiative this week in Laguna province's Panguil River Eco Park.

"BioBlitz aims to help raise public awareness about and action on conserving Philippine wetlands," noted Zenaida Ugat who was among SCPW's elected officers.

For the March 16-17 launch, Ugat said SCPW, the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), the environment department's Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), and other partners would do a "characterization" of the eco park's river.

She said such characterization would identify attributes of the river, so SCPW could develop a database for the waterway.

LLDA, ERDB, and others could use the database as a reference for better monitoring and conserving the river and its surroundings, she noted. The database could also serve a as reference for efforts against further environmental degradation in Laguna Lake, where the river drains, she continued.

Ugat said SCPW targets to spearhead BioBlitz in other Philippine wetlands to help further promote conservation and develop databases where there is none yet.

Results of the SCPW-led characterization in those wetlands would help guide conservation efforts there, she said.

Ramsar Convention is an international agreement promoting conservation and wise use of wetlands worldwide to help bring forth sustainable development.

The Convention defined wetlands as “areas of marsh, fen, peatland, or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish, or salty, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters”.

The Convention said wetlands include "all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, as well as all human-made sites, such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs, and salt pans".

SCPW chose Panguil River Eco Park as the location of BioBlitz' launch, since this area is a wetland, noted Ugat. She said SCPW also has conservation partners around the area. The Panguil municipality in Laguna province has jurisdiction over the eco-park, she said.

"That LGU is developing the area as a tourist destination," she noted.

BioBlitz' launch is among Philippine activities for the 2018 celebration of the annual World Water Day (WWD).

This year's WWD is anchored on the theme "Nature for Water" to help promote exploration of nature-based solutions to water challenges in this century.

Among such challenges are damaged ecosystems' negative impact on quantity and quality of water available for human consumption.

WWD is held on March 22 every year to focus on the importance of freshwater and sustainable management of freshwater resources.

An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development.

The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating March 22, 1993 as the first WWD.

Each year, WWD highlights an aspect of freshwater. (PNA)