Wednesday,February 6, 2019


The RAMSAR Convention which is the intergovernmental treaty that recognizes the ecological, economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value of wetlands defines 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 salt, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six (6) meters.

The Philippine has been active in the efforts for wetlands conservation.Plans and activities are regularly conducted towards the achievement of the Convention mission of “conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development”. Because of these conservation efforts, several conservation sites has been included in the Philippine Wetlands of International Importance or RAMSAR Sites.

“Wetlands are vulnerable to Climate Change impacts yet conservation is very critical for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation”.


3 Categories of Wetlands in the Philippines:


  1. Inland / Freshwater- lakes, freshwater swamps,marshes, rivers, natural pools, streams, peatlands
  2. Human-Made – reservoirs and dams/water storage areas , fishponds, saltpans,wastewater ponds and rice paddies 
  3. Coastal /Marine- coral reefs, seagrass beds, salt marshes,estuaries, tidal flats, lagoons and mangrove areas


Types of Wetlands in the Philippines: 

  • Lagoon
  • Seagrass
  • Mangroves
  • River
  • Estuary, Mudflats
  • Lakes
  • Swamp
  • Cave Hydrological System

Benefits of Wetlands:

Wetlands provide the following benefits that require efforts for their protection:

  1. Supporting – soil formation, nutrient cycling and water cycle
  2. Regulating – Natural Hazard Regulation , Climate Regulation , Water Regulation (Hydrological flows), Water Purification and Water Treatment, Erosion Regulation, Pollination,Carbon Sequestration
  3. Cultural – spiritual and inspirational, Recreational, Aesthetic,Educational
  4. Provisioning – Provision as a source of food, fresh water(drinking), fibre, fuel, genetic materials
  5. As a cost-effective alternative to engineering measures for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management.

Inland and Human-made wetlands are aquatic-influenced environments located within land boundaries”.

“Caves in the upstream are considered special type of inland wetlands as defined in the Cave Act of the Philippines (RA 9072).

Major Threats to Philippine Wetlands:

The following are the threats that may result to destruction of wetlands in the Philippines:

  1. Pollution from domestic, industrial and agricultural sources
  2. Introduction of Exotic Species
  3. Incompatible Tourism Activities
  4. Wetland conversion to other use (as in the case of Boracay Island)
  5. Over exploitation of resources
  6. Unsustainable resource use
  7. Overlapping and conflicting policies
  8. Climate Change

Total Inland Wetlands based on the Atlas of Inland Wetlands and Classified Caves of 2016 = 342 (complete list of wetlands as of 1st quarter 2019)

Composition of the 342 Total Wetlands of the Philippines.

Quick Facts: Inland Wetlands ( based on the Atlas of Philippine Wetlands and Classified Caves 1st edition, 2016)


129 Total Inland Wetlands identified compose of the following: 102 Lakes , 17 water storage areas, 4 marshes/ swamps, 5 ponds, 1 peatland

Total Area of Luzon Inland Wetlands: 160,006.37 has.


56 inland wetlands were identified composed of the following: 34 lakes, 4 water storage areas, 4 marshes/swamps, 13 ponds and 1 peatland.

Total Area of Visayas inland wetlands = 3,774.52 has


129 inland wetlands were identified composed of the following: 85 lakes, 18 water storage areas, 6 marshes/swamps, 13 ponds and 7 peatlands.

Total Area of Mindanao inland wetlands = 217,996.15 has

Wetland Assessment


The main objective of wetland management is to be able to optimize benefits from them. Hence, wise use of wetlands is encouraged. Wetland assessment or profiling is the description of wetland ecological character, the maintenance of which, defines “wise use”. Since wetlands are described through its characteristics of being waterlogged, having adapted lifeforms and hydric soil, when assessing changes in ecological character, each of these elements are described, from the hydrological, biological and geological components, to the processes and range of services that the wetland provides. The Wetland Information Sheet is further refined by the use of the Rapid Assessment of Wetland  Ecosystem Services (RAWES) Tool.



From the inventory list of wetlands in the Region, priority wetlands are identified based on the urgency for characterization considering its use for biological conservation, hazard mitigation, ecotourism, and fisheries production. The component wetland types are then identified and based on this, a team of  skilled staff is formed. In the planning for field work, schedules would be based on requirements on expertise, supplies, equipment and seasonality (whether for dry or wet season). Secondary data gathering and analysis may also come before an assessment team is assembled. The team should also first coordinate with other agencies capable of doing soils, water and aquatic resources characterization, to know beforehand if data are available or data gathering could be done. In case there are no available data, resources or expertise from other DENR agencies or units, engaging a third-party or assisting professional could be considered.


Methods for biological assessments would depend on the type of wetland and priority species, and on the management objectives (e.g. for biodiversity conservation, fisheries production, hazard mitigation etc.). The PAME Manual on Biodiversity Assessment and Monitoring for Inland Wetland Ecosystems is a useful reference. For coastal and marine wetlands, the BMB Technical Bulletin 2017-05 Guidelines on the Assessment of Coastal and Marine Ecosystems can be referred to.

Core information on the wetland information sheet (WIS) and rapid assessment of wetland ecosystem services (RAWES) forms should be filled up to come up with a complete wetland profile.

Wetland Profiling

Link to Coastal Wetlands

Link to Policies Page

—-Source and Further Reading—-

Atlas of Philippine Inland Wetlands and Classified Caves (1st edition,2016)