Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention)

Ramsar combined
Philippine delegates DENR Asst. Sec. Daniel Darius Nicer, Consul Arnel Talisayon (DFA), Joy Navarro (BMB), Marlynn Mendoza (BMB), and OIC-Reg. Exec. Dir. Ipat Luna (DENR 4A) participate in COP13 of the Ramsar Con- vention on Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on 25 October 2018. [IISD/ Francis Dejon ( and ramsar/cop13/25oct.html)]

The Convention on Wetlands or Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. It was adopted by participating nations in Ramsar, Iran on 2 February 1971 and came into force on 21 December 1975. It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.

Wetlands are described by the Convention and by the Joint DENR-DA-PCSD AO No. 2004-01 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 where the depth at low tide does not exceed six meters. There are currently 170 Ramsar member countries and 2,341 Ramsar sites with a total area of 252.42 million hectares (ha).
Focal Office:
Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB)
Date Ratified:
November 8, 1994
Focal Persons/Offices:
Secretary, DENR
Tel. No. (632) 926 3011, 920 4301, 929 6626 loc 2258

OIC-Assistant Secretary for Staff Bureaus and Director, DENR-BMB
Tel. Nos. (632) 924 6031 to 35 local 222, 925 8952 to 53

Designated National Focal Point for Ramsar Convention Matters
Division Chief, Coastal and Marine Division, DENR-BMB
Tel. No. (632) 924 6031 to 35 local 207, (632) 925 8948

Designated Government National Focal Point for Communication, Education, Participation and Awareness (CEPA)
OIC-Chief, Special Ecosystems Standards Section, Caves, Wetlands and Other Ecosystems Division, DENR-BMB
Tel. No. (632) 924 6031 to 35 locals 228, (632) 925 8950, 925 8950-51

Caves, Wetlands and Other Ecosystems Division, DENR-BMB
Tel. No. (632) 924 6031 to 35 local 226, (632) 925 8950

Designated Non-Governmental OrganiZation National Focal Point for Communication, Education, Participation and Awareness (CEPA)
Vice President and Executive Director
Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands, Inc.
Tel. No. (632) 637 2409
Under the Ramsar Convention, parties commit to work towards the wise use of all wetlands under their jurisdiction; designate suitable wetlands for the "List of Wetlands of International Importance," called the "Ramsar List," and ensure their effective management; and cooperate with other countries in relation to transboundary wetlands, shared wetland systems and shared species.
As a Contracting Party to the Ramsar Convention, the Philippines commits to report on its compliance with the Convention and submit triennial National Reports following the Strategic Plan of the Convention. This includes the implementation of a Communication, Education, Participation and Awareness (CEPA) Plan to disseminate information to the public following the theme "People taking action for the wise use of wetlands."
Sources / Relevant Links:
Philippines' Webpage on Ramsar
World Wetlands Day (February 2)


The DENR submitted the Philippine Report for Ramsar COP 13 in January 2018. This may be accessed at During COP 13 in Dubai, the Philippines became the alternate Asia representative to the Ramsar Standing Committee. Twenty-five Resolutions were adopted during COP13 including the Philippine-authored Ramsar Resolution XIII.20 on "Promoting the Conservation and Wise Use of Intertidal Wetlands and Ecologically-associated Habitats." Intertidal wetlands are an under-represented type. In COP 12 in Uruguay, the Philippines also initiated the Ramsar Resolution XII.13 on "Wetlands and Disaster Risk Reduction" which was adopted by the COP.

Currently, the Philippines has seven sites included in the Ramsar List with combined surface area of around 245,000 ha. The newest of these is Ramsar site number 2271, the Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area (NOCWCA), with an area of 89,607.8 ha added on 20 October 2016. The other sites are:
Ramsar site number 656 Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu, 5,800 ha;
Ramsar site number 1008 Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro, 14,568 ha;
Ramsar site number 1009 Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary. Agusan del Sur, Mindanao, 14,836 ha;
Ramsar site number 1010 Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. Cagayancillo, Sulu Sea; 96,828 ha;
Ramsar site number 2084 Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan, 22,202 ha;
Ramsar site number 2124 Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area in Metro Manila, 175 ha.

The five most successful aspects in the Philippine implementation of the Convention are the following:
1. "Wetlands" have been given the recognition and greater importance in conservation;
2. The Caves, Wetlands and Other Ecosystems Division was created in the Biodiversity Management Bureau to cater to the conservation needs of wetlands including caves;
3. The formulation and implementation of the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program (CMEMP);
4. Financial allocation to the wetland conservation has been increased; and
5. Increased participation in capacity building activities.

The Fourth Ramsar Strategic Plan 2016-2024 has four goals translated into nineteen targets. Selected information on Philippine compliance based on the national report is found below.

Strategic Goal 1: Addressing the Drivers of wetland Loss and Degradation

Target 1: Wetland benefits are featured in national/local policy strategies and plans relating to key sectors such as water, energy, mining, agriculture, tourism, urban development, infrastructure, industry, forestry, aquaculture, fisheries at the national and local level - Wetland issues/benefits have been incorporated into national strategies and planning processes (e.g. wetland management, water resource management, PBSAP, energy and mining, etc.) but only partially in poverty eradication, forest programs, urban development, infrastructure, industry, aquaculture.

Target 2: Water use respects wetland ecosystem needs for them to fulfil their functions and provide services at the appropriate scale inter alia at the basin level or along a coastal zone - The DENR Environmental Management Bureau conducts water quality monitoring in 127 freshwater bodies and 75 frequently visited beaches. However, the supply of water required by wetlands has not yet been assessed.

Target 3: The public and private sectors have increased their efforts to apply guidelines and good practices for the wise use of water and wetlands - Livelihood support activities are also given to stakeholders of wetlands. One of these is the "Treepreneurship Project" of the Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands. Here, stakeholders are supported for the maintenance of the tree nursery and the reforestation of Mt. Arayat, part of the watershed providing water to Candaba Swamp. Conversion of mangrove areas to fishponds has been banned. A policy limiting the percentage of surface area of freshwater or inland wetlands, especially lakes, that can be occupied by fishcages at 10% was formulated.

Target 4: Invasive alien species and pathways of introduction and expansion are identified and prioritized, priority invasive alien species are controlled or eradicated, and management responses are prepared and implemented to prevent their introduction and establishment - A National Invasive Species Strategy and Action Plan (NISSAP) has been formulated and published.

Strategic Goal 2: Effectively Conserving and Managing the Ramsar Site Network

Target 5: The ecological character of Ramsar sites is maintained or restored, through effective planning and integrated management - The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park has been cited by the Ramsar Convention as the best effectively managed marine protected area, if not the best among all protected areas in the Philippines. All the Ramsar sites have cross-sectoral management committees.

Target 6: There is a significant increase in area, numbers and ecological connectivity in the Ramsar Site network, in particular under-represented types of wetlands including in under-represented ecoregions and Transboundary Sites
- No update yet.

Target 7: Sites that are at risk of change of ecological character have threats addressed - Ramsar Site Managers under the supervision of the DENR are required to submit annual reports to the Biodiversity Management Bureau, the Administrative Authority.

Strategic Goal 3: Wisely Using All Wetlands

Target 8: National wetland inventories have been initiated, completed or updated and disseminated and used for promoting the conservation and effective management of all wetlands - An Atlas of Philippine Inland Wetlands and Classified Caves has been published in 2016. There is an on-going updating of the inventory of coastal wetlands. A database for inland wetlands and another for coastal wetlands is being developed.

Target 9: The wise use of wetlands is strengthened through integrated resource management at the appropriate scale, inter alia, within a river basin or along a coastal zone - Three bills are pending in the Philippine Congress reflecting Ramsar commitments: An integrated Coastal Management bill; a bill providing for the conservation, reforestation and rehabilitation of mangrove forests; and a bill providing for the establishment of the National Coastal Greenbelt Program.

Target 10: The traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous peoples and local communities relevant for the wise use of wetlands and their customary use of wetland resources are documented, respected, subject to national legislation and relevant international obligations, and fully integrated and reflected in the implementation of the Convention, with a full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities at all relevant levels - Guidelines for establishing and strengthening local communities' and indigenous people's participation are embodied in the management planning guidelines for all protected areas within the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) that include wetlands. They also emphasize the respect for indigenous rights.

Target 11: Wetland functions, services and benefits are widely demonstrated, documented and disseminated - The implementation of "The Economics of Ecosystem and Biodiversity (TEEB)" in the Philippines for Manila Bay includes the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA). The rapid assessment of candidate sites for proclamation as protected areas, including Ramsar sites, includes an assessment of ecosystem services and benefits.

Target 12: Restoration is in progress in degraded wetlands, with priority to wetlands that are relevant for biodiversity conservation, disaster risk reduction, livelihoods and/or climate change mitigation and adaptation - The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has a program called "Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa" (BASIL) that aims to re-stock inland freshwater bodies with indigenous fish.

Target 13: Enhanced sustainability of key sectors such as water, energy, mining, agriculture, tourism, urban development, infrastructure, industry, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries, when they affect wetlands, contributing to biodiversity conservation and human livelihoods - Development projects in the Philippines are subjected to Environmental Impact Assessment. Coastal wetlands as well as lakes, both man-made and natural, have been drawing many tourists to the Philippines. Policies, rules and regulations on the protection of coastal resources, such as corals and beaches, are in place.

Operational Goal 4: Enhancing Implementation

Target 14: Scientific guidance and technical methodologies at global and regional levels are developed on relevant topics and are available to policy makers and practitioners in an appropriate format and language - No updates.

Target 15: Ramsar Regional Initiatives with the active involvement and support of the Parties in each region are reinforced and developed into effective tools to assist in the full implementation of the Convention - Regional initiatives with Philippine involvement are the East Asian Australian Flyway Partnership and the Memoranda of Understanding on the conservation and management of marine turtles and dugongs.

Target 16: Wetlands conservation and wise use are mainstreamed through communication, capacity development, education, participation and awareness - A National CEPA Action Plan has been developed to highlight the importance of wetlands. Many local or site-specific CEPA activities are led by the Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands (SCPW) headed by the CEPA NGO Focal Point in relation to the celebration of World Wetlands Day, World Water Day and Earth Day.

Target 17: Financial and other resources for effectively implementing the 4th Ramsar Strategic Plan 2016-2024 from all sources are made available - The country's Ramsar contributions have been paid in full. Funding support has been received from development assistance agencies specifically for in-country wetland conservation and management projects.

Target 18: International cooperation is strengthened at all levels - The country received assistance from BirdLife International, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), Wetlands International, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT).

Target 19: Capacity building for implementation of the Convention and the 4th Ramsar Strategic Plan 2016-2024 is enhanced - Twelve series of trainings for wetland site managers were conducted since COP 12.

This Page was updated on 20 December 2019 and will be updated on 07 January 2020
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