MINERVA BC NEWMAN
CEBU CITY— A biodiversity-rich Cleanergy Park in Davao City owned and managed by the Aboitiz Group continues to attract nearly 100 bird species, 10 to 15 of which are endemic to the Philippines, luring urban birdwatchers from all over the country.
Davao-based birdwatcher Pete Simpson said that in terms of urban bird-watching sites, the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park is, by far, the best in Davao City. “I would say it’s one of the best urban bird watching sites in the whole Philippines and I have already spotted a total of 98 bird species at the park since 2016,” he added.
Simpson said that it’s good for bird watching because there is a range of habitats within a small area–the sea, the beach, mangroves, other trees, and recently, a small grassland area. A range of habitats, and each habitat has different birds specialized to live in these habitats.
“So, to be approaching nearly 100 bird species in such a small area and to be surrounded by an urban environment is excellent,” Simpson said.
Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer Sabin Aboitiz bared that the existence of nearly 100 bird species at the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park is a remarkable achievement that reflects the Aboitiz Group’s strong commitment to sustainability and the preservation of an environmentally-vital site in Davao and Mindanao.
“We will continue to work hard to ensure that the succeeding generations will also be able to appreciate the natural environment of the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park and our strong commitment to sustainability and mindful operation of the Park has contributed to the flourishing of the flora and fauna in the area.” Aboitiz said.
The Park is an eight-hectare ecological preserve located in Punta Dumalag, Davao City and is around 46 to 48 minutes or 20 kilometers from the Therma South, Inc. baseload power plant. Known as an urban-based biodiversity conservation site, it is home to the critically-endangered hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), endemic and migratory birds, and marine species, Aboitiz revealed.
Birds thrive and flourish at the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park due to its rich biodiversity including trees that serve as ideal bird habitats, Aboitiz noted that around 20 bird species in the park are considered migratoryand a number can be found in other parts of the Philippines and throughout Southeast Asia. Some of them are vagrant birds that were only seen once at the site–rare birds.
Simpson, a member of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines – Davao who has studied environmental biology has been a birdwatcher since he was 11. He considers the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park to be one of Davao del Sur’s top five bird watching sites,“which is remarkable considering its relatively urban location.
Throughout the Philippines, there are about 90 birding sites that have reached the milestone of 100 birds recorded. To be approaching 100 species in a site only a few hectares is excellent and to be surrounded by an urban environment, is great, Simpson explained.
This was a far cry from when he first set foot in the Punta Dumalag area, when the area was still undeveloped, Simpson said that looking at it now, it tells him that the site is better for birds than when he visited them seven years ago, when there was almost no birds at all, he recalled.
Some of the bird species spotted at the Park include an Asian Emerald Dove with its young and a Pied Imperial Pigeon which Simpson described as a large and endemic pigeon usually found in forested areas in Mindanao; a hawksbill turtle or pawikan being taken cared of at the Park. These are just some of the 95 bird species and counting that have been spotted at Park.
Simpson said that the Park needs to be there and must be kept private and access-restricted. “I would be happy if more people in the Philippines would know more about the amazing birds at the Cleanergy Park,” he added.
The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, a nationwide club of birdwatchers interested in the wild birds of the Philippines has described the country on its website as “both a rewarding and difficult place to bird-watch.”
In 2019, the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park welcomed 10,735 visitors and has so far released 4,811 pawikan hatchlings. Since 2014, the Park has been home to 40 discovered pawikan nests.
For the early part of 2020, two pawikans have been rescued and are currently under observation due to health conditions. Recent improvements in the park were also done with the installation of a new sustainable fixture that is aplaygroundmade out of used log poles. (Photos: Aboitiz Group/Franz de la Fuente)