By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is searching for possible relocation sites for houses and commercial buildings sitting on wetlands in Boracay, before the Department could recover and rehabilitate the four “missing” wetlands in the island.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said the recovery of the four wetlands is one of the government’s priorities in restoring Boracay Island’s world famous ecosystem.
Wetlands are the link between land and water, and are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Wetlands are important because they protect and improve water quality, provide fish and wildlife habitats, store floodwaters and maintain surface water flow during dry periods.
In Boracay, wetlands have the natural capacity to filter wastewater and release it slowly into the sea as clean water.
However, currently, the wastes generated from residential and commercial structures “figure in the wetlands, and in turn, are transferred to the main beach when high tide occurs.”
“We have to find a place for them to be relocated. We will recover the wetlands because this is like the kidneys of the island. But before we ask them to leave the wetlands, of course we have to find a relocation site for them. This is one of the things that we are going to do after the six-month closure,” the DENR chief pointed out.
One of the remaining wetlands sits inside a titled property while another has been turned into a lagoon. Another one is located in a forest while two others are within residential communities.
Cimatu also said DENR is currently focused on improving the sewerage systems in the island among other concerns, and recovering the wetlands and transferring the illegal settlers will take time.
He said his office is now searching for a good relocation site for the residents who will be uprooted from their houses that are situated in either one of the nine wetlands of Boracay Island.
Aside from serving as natural water storage areas, wetlands also function as flood conveyance and provide a habitat to fish and wildlife.