Green groups wary of plans to develop Ninoy Aquino Wildlife parkBy Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–Environmental groups are wary of the plans to develop the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City, saying it could harm the flora and fauna in one of Metro Manila’s last remaining urban forests.
Antony Arbias, president of the Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society, Inc., which conducted a survey of the flora inside the park, said the 20-hectare park helps mitigate pollution in that part of the city.
He noted that infrastructure-oriented development in the area could “compromise” the trees, various plants, and wildlife there.
“There is an ecological value to the Ninoy Aquino Park. The green parts of Metro Manila are all fragmented. This is one of the last big ones. We don’t want to compromise this. If we do, what is next? The La Mesa park?” he said.
Kalikasan-People’s Network for Environment said preserving the park is important as it provides “ecological services that are needed, especially in an urbanized environment such as Quezon City.”
The group also raised fears that giving the control of the development of the park to a foreign company could lead to higher entrance fees for tourists.
At present, park entrance fees are at a minimal P5 for students and P8 for nonstudents. Senior citizens and persons with disabilities enjoy free admission.
Arbias noted that PNPCSI is not against the development of the park. However, any plans should make sure that infrastructure development is minimal so as not to disrupt the flora and fauna there. Developers could make trail walks in the park and build thematic gardens that would showcase Philippine plants, he said.
PNPCSI was founded by the late botanist Leonardo Co, who spearheaded the study of trees and plants inside the park. Arbias said there are about 4,500 mature exotic and native trees in the urban forest. There are also nesting places there for wild birds, he added.
Recently, the Quezon City government and a group of Singaporean businessmen have offered to develop a portion of the park into a nature sanctuary. Quezon City officials denied speculations that the investors were planning to build an amusement park on prime government land.
The NAPWC was declared a protected area in 2004 under Republic Act No. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Area System (Nipas) Act.
Aside from its animal rescue center, the park also has a lagoon that doubles as a fishing spot.