Birdwatching? More fun in PH!

With hundreds of species found in unique habitats throughout the archipelago, birdwatching is more fun in the Philippines, the Tourism department said.

This, as it noted that the country has recently become "a magnet for birdwatchers" in the region.

"Birdwatching... is a thriving tourism product that has low environmental impact since serious (advance vs. casual or novice) birdwatchers are nature lovers," Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said in a statement.

There are 600 species of birds in the Philippines, 200 of which are not found anywhere else in the world, the statement noted, quoting the World Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP).

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Birdwatching sites, however, should be properly developed and managed for the activiy to be "sustainable and reward," Jimenez said.

"Involvement of our local communities ensures that these habitats are well taken care of for the economic benefits that they will bring," Jimenez said.

To heighten awareness on the need to protect bird sanctuaries, the Tourism and Environment departments as well as WBCP are set to celebrate the 8th Philippine Bird Festival on Dec. 7 to 8 in Manila.

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"The festival aims to promote birdwatching as a nature tourism activity and drum up support for conservation and restoration of Metro Manila's remaining wetlands," the statement said.

It particularly cited the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, a 175-hectare protected habitat just off the Coastal Road leading to Cavite.

The event also hopes to draw attention to Manila Bay and its important role in bird's migratory route called the East Asian Flyway.

It is also seen to "encourage public participation in conservation and the creation of more public green spaces," the Tourism department said.

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The festival will be held at the Rizal Park's Teodoro F. Valencia Circle and will be open to the public free of charge.

Featured during the two-day event are an exhibit of bird photos, displays on the biodiversity of Manila Bay, films and lectures, bird watching trips, and forums on ecotourism, birdlife management and aviation safety.

An activity center featuring bird-themed games, folklore, and crafts will also be mounted, the statement said.

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