Committed to living out its #OneAboitizSustainability Framework, the Aboitiz Group completed its efforts in the wetland protection and rehabilitation of the Boracay Wetland No. 4. Conceived as a joint project with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Aboitiz is ready to turn over the newly rehabilitated one-hectare lagoon of Wetland No. 4, named “Balabag Wetland Park” this year.
As a linear urban park, the Balabag Wetland Park will feature recreational activities using low-impact eco-tourism designs; educational advocacies by generating awareness on the importance of wetlands; and experiential opportunities by allowing the local community, students, and even tourists to participate in safeguarding its sustainability through clean up drives, regular maintenance, and protection initiatives. These will be made possible through partnerships with the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Philippine wetlands are a vital ecosystem for the biodiversity of aquatic species and also serve as sanctuaries for migratory birds. Wetlands support the communities around them with livelihood opportunities and food security, and they also act as carbon storage and flood catchments during typhoons and heavy rains. However, due to human activity, wetlands are disappearing at a rate three times faster than forest lands, leaving countries like the Philippines even more vulnerable to the effects of the ongoing climate crisis.
Aboitiz strongly advocates for the rehabilitation of the country’s wetlands as a means of protecting and preserving Philippine biodiversity. “The Aboitiz Group fully supports the mission of the DENR and the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force to rehabilitate the island, in order to ensure its sustainability and prevent further degradation of its rich ecosystem. With the government's support, the Boracay that we are co-creating and leaving to our children is a community that is safe, empowered, and sustainable,” said Sabin M. Aboitiz, president and CEO of the Aboitiz Group.
Director Natividad Y. Bernardino, OIC of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), thanked the Aboitiz Group for the invaluable partnership. “The DENR, through its Biodiversity Management Bureau, expresses its appreciation to Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. and Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. for rehabilitating Boracay's Wetland No. 4 under the Bureau's ‘Adopt-A-Wetland’ program. Wetland No. 4 has been transformed into what is called now the ‘Balabag Wetland Park,' and has now become one of the island's tourist attractions and an icon of Boracay's successful rehabilitation.” Bernardino said.
Since the Balabag Wetland Park’s adoption by Aboitiz in 2018, several improvements have already been made: aerators have been installed to improve water quality; 3D signages were constructed for tourists and locals to use as social media post backdrops; a community center has been completed, which serves as an open activity area; perimeter landscaping and pavements have been completed, allowing for leisurely walks in nature; and a parking area is made available for visitors who wish to go to the park.