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SMC Bares Plan to Protect Birds Around New Airport Project

The new airport is aimed to be the country's largest, most modern, and sustainable airport.

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) has drawn up a comprehensive plan to protect local migratory bird populations in the Manila Bay, including the coastal areas of Bulakan, Bulacan. This is part of the company’s sustainability blueprint for its New Manila International Airport project.

SMC has tapped avian researcher Dr. Frank E. Rheindt, Associate Professor and Dean’s Chair at the Department of Biological Sciences of the National University of Singapore, to study the bird populations in the area.

Bird safety

Dr. Rheindt has formulated a framework of recommendations on how to ensure the project can mitigate for negative impacts on local and migratory bird species. The framework will also help support the declining global populations of shorebirds and ensure the safety of aircraft from potential bird strikes, says SMC President Ramon S. Ang. (Read: A Prayer for Environmental Protection)

Among the key recommendations by Rheindt is to develop new and protected coastal areas that resemble mudflats–similar to Mai Po Reserve in Hong Kong–where migratory shorebirds can safely feed when they pass through the country for several weeks throughout the year.

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Known as Hong Kong’s “Bird Paradise,” the Mai Po Nature Reserve has been managed by WWF-Hong Kong since 1983. (Photo from timeout.com/Hello! Hong Kong)

Dr. Rheindt likewise identified suitable areas within a 10-kilometer radius of the airport, in Malolos, Paombong and Hagonoy, Bulacan, as the best options for suitable areas to serve as offset.

“As with any project of this scale, we have to think of all the issues that impact our host communities, the environment, and the project itself. Birds are always a safety concern for airports around the world. But our goal here is to protect them, and there are several ways we can do that, while also ensuring safety at the airport,” Ang said. (Read: Pasig River Is Top Ocean Pollutant, World Study Suggests)

Balance between development and nature

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This is an artist’s rendition of the Bulacan airport (Photo from SMC Media Affairs)

There needs to be a balance between the development of the airport side and the protection and enhancing of the environment around it, Ang further said.

“We want to avoid the mistake of many developments, that’s why we have put together the best team of local and foreign experts in various fields, from land development, environment management, airport design and construction, and urban master-planning, to help build this airport and aerocity development,” Ang said. The new airport is aimed to be the country’s largest, most modern, and sustainable airport. (Read: Diocese of Dumaguete Expresses Concern Over Proposed ‘Smart City’ Reclamation Plan)

Aside from the protection of avian environment around the area of Bulacan, SMC is also putting together a plan to develop the initial 20 hectares of its proposed 80-hectare Paombong Mangrove Plantation & Sanctuary, that can host as many as 200,000 mangrove propagules.

Some 13,000 propagules are already in place in the coastal areas of Hagonoy and Obando.

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