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Aboitiz Cleanergy Park Cited As Birdwatching Haven

By Franz de la Fuente

Its wide variety of animal habitat types combined with the area’s relative isolation and secure environment have made the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park in Davao City an excellent site for birdwatching, a local expert said. The park’s total recorded bird species is already nearing 100, 10 to 15 of which are endemic to the Philippines.

Around 20 bird species in the park are considered migratory, and a number can be found in other parts of the Philippines and throughout Southeast Asia. Some of them are rare birds that were only seen onsite once.

“In terms of urban bird-watching sites, Cleanergy [Park] is, by far, the best in Davao City, and I would say it's one of the best urban birdwatching sites in the whole Philippines,” said Davao-based birdwatcher Pete Simpson who himself has already spotted a total of 98 bird species at the park since 2016.

(1) an Asian Emerald Dove with its young; (2) a Pied Imperial Pigeon (Photo Credits: Pete Simpson)

The Aboitiz Cleanergy Park, around 46 to 48 minutes or 20 kilometers from the Therma South baseload power plant, is an eight-hectare ecological preserve located in Punta Dumalag, Davao City. 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.

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.

Sabin M. Aboitiz, President & CEO, Aboitiz Group
A hawksbill turtle or pawikan being taken care of at the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park
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.

Pete Simpson, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
The imperial pigeon, photographed here in August 2020, is described by birdwatcher Pete Simpson (Wild Bird Club of the Philippines) as a large and endemic pigeon usually found in forested areas in Mindanao (Photo Credit: Pete Simpson)

‘Better for birds’

Simpson is a member of 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”. He studied environmental biology and, having been a birdwatcher since aged 11, considers Aboitiz Cleanergy Park to be one of Davao del Sur’s top five birdwatching sites, which is remarkable considering its relatively urban location.

“Throughout the Philippines, there are just 90 birding sites that have reached the milestone of 100 birds recorded and Aboitiz Cleanergy Park will join that group soon. To be approaching 100 species in a site only a few hectares is excellent. To have that, and to be surrounded by an urban environment, is great,” Simpson explained.

A sustainable new fixture at the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park: a new playground made out of used log poles
Birds thrive and flourish at the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park, thanks to its rich biodiversity including trees that serve as ideal bird habitats.

“The level of protection—which Cleanergy [Park] has got is absolutely right and must be continued forever—but the way things are at the moment in the Philippines, it (Aboitiz Cleanergy Park) needs to be there. It must be kept private and access-restricted,” Simpson who recalls first setting foot on Punta Dumalag seven years ago when the area was untended and “saw almost no birds”.

He does, however, add: “I would be happy if more people in the Philippines would know more about the amazing birds at Cleanergy Park.”

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 made, with the installation of a new playground, which are made from recycled log poles.

The Aboitiz Group, in its aim to drive change for a better world by advancing business and communities, carries a strong commitment to sustainability and mindful operation of the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park. This, in turn, has contributed to the flourishing of the flora and fauna in the area, making it a haven located within city limits.

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