‘China-backed dam will destroy Sierra Madre biodiversity’
The construction of the multibillion-peso Kaliwa Dam, one of the flagship infrastructure projects identified by the government that will be financed by China through a bilateral loan agreement, will not only have devastating effects on people’s lives. It will also ravage the homes of thousands of threatened wildlife species in the Sierra Madre mountain forests.
The forests and coastline covered by Presidential Proclamation No. 1636 (series of 1977) are a key habitat to 15 species of amphibians, 334 bird species, 1,476 fish species, 963 invertebrate species, 81 mammal species, 50 plant species, and 60 reptile species. The protected area is home to the critically endangered Philippine eagle in its forested mountains and the Hawksbill turtle in its coastlines, among other globally threatened species.
The biggest portion of the Kaliwa Watershed vegetation has approximately 12,147 hectares of residual forests, which has around 172 plant or flora species recorded, 39 of which are endemic or only found in the country, and 17 are threatened or vulnerable to endangerment or extinction in the near future.
It cannot be overemphasized that the proposed Kaliwa Dam will drive countless species of birds, plants and animals into extinction—all of which are woven together into one intricate web of life.
We call on the government to refrain from signing the loan agreement for the construction of the dam, and instead protect and rehabilitate degraded watersheds supplying potable water to Metro Manila.
MARIA BELINDA DE LA PAZ, chief operating officer, Haribon Foundation
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