Tieza approves P15-M budget for Agusan Marsh development

THE Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) has approved a P15-million budget for the development of the Agusan marshland.

During the Kapehan sa Dabaw press conference held at SM City Davao Annex on Monday, April 2, Mindanao Tourism Council (MTC) Executive Director Jonallier Mana-ay Perez said the P15-million budget will cover the 32-hectare land area of the Agusan Marsh.

He added the budget had already been approved and is only up for downloading to concerning local government units (LGUs). The MTC will be spearheading the project in partnership with Tieza.

"These will go to the construction of two floating houses where the tourists will stay. And in the marshland, the problem is in the water, so Tieza will also build a water purification system that is going to be solar-powered. There will also be two observation decks for wild bird watching and wild bird photography," said Perez, adding they target to start with the development projects within the year.

With its total land area almost the same as that of Metro Manila, Perez said it is one of the most significant wetlands in the country.

Agusan Marshland has a total of even rivers located in the area with the responsibility of caring it shared by six different LGUs of Agusan del Sur.

During winter season in Japan, China, and Russia, about 200,000 migratory birds from 200 individual bird species migrate to Agusan Marsh, avoiding the cold in their countries of origin.

With the development project in partnership with Tieza, Perez said they plan to highlight the existence of these migratory birds through the bird watching and photography.

Specifically in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, a P32-million budget was also requested for the establishment of a museum, orchid sanctuary, and aviary.

Perez said the two-hectare coverage of this separate project contains a river, which they also plan to incorporate within the development. The budget has yet to be approved but he said they hope to start the project within the year.

Aside from this, they also plan on creating tour packages and proper wildlife conservation measures, as they do not want to happen again what happened with the famous, large crocodile Lolong.

Lolong was recorded to be the largest crocodile in captivity measuring more than six meters. It made Agusan del Sur popular and was a tourist destination for a while until the crocodile's death on February 10, 2013.

Perez said they admitted that in some ways, Lolong was mishandled and as they want Lianga, Surigao del Sur, to be the newest Nautical Tourism Destination, they are going to invite conservation experts to partner with.

"The (tour) package is before you proceed to the marshland, you stay overnight in that area. We will be partnering with the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute and the College of Science to send biologists and conservation experts," he said.

In Loreto, Agusan del Sur, Perez said they also wish to build a community museum and they have already requested about P20 million for the said project.
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