By Dorothy Andrada
Published 2019 December 16 – From December 2019 Issue
As a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Philippines drafted the Philippine Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (PBSAP) to address growing concerns regarding biodiversity. The most recent version, published in 2016, includes urban biodiversity as part of the areas that need protection (Cabrido 2016). Often an underrepresented area, urban biodiversity seems more relevant now than ever given how urbanization is observed to be the trend in many modern nations.
Even so, the Ateneo had already dedicated itself to the protection of its local biodiversity long before this. In 2011, Abigail Favis and Maria Katrina Constantino, professors from the Departments of Environmental Science and Biology respectively, began a careful catalog of all the plant and animal species they had observed in those green spaces. Of the animal species spotted on campus, the most diverse are the birds: a total of 73 different species observed, 18 of which are endemic to the Philippines. There have also been observations of 33 species of butterflies, 9 species of snakes, geckos, and lizards, 8 species of frogs and toads, and 2 species of bats (Favis and Constantino 2019). With the recent establishment of The Ateneo Wild, a Facebook page dedicated to these observations, student submissions managed to record different species of insects, arthropods, and even a terrestrial flatworm.
A big contribution for such high biodiversity is the fact that the Ateneo has allocated approximately 60% of its 90-hectare property for green spaces (Roxas et al. 2017). Although this is only a small portion of Quezon City, it is evident that these green spaces provide the much-needed biodiversity hubs inside the urban landscape. A few studies have already been published about how eco-friendly schools are able to create such green spaces (Muvengwi et al. 2019; Reidy et al. 2015). There have also been a few studies published on urban biodiversity in Manila City, Davao City, and in other universities.
Despite there being little formal research published on the matter, it is clear that there is high species richness in the Ateneo, which can be attributed to vast green spaces where these animals can naturally grow.
Cabrido C. 2016. Philippine biodiversity strategy and action plan 2015-2028 [Internet]. Convention on Biological Diversity. [cited 2019 Oct 25]. Available from: https://www.cbd.int/doc/world/ph/ph-nbsap-v3-en.pdf.
Favis AT, Constantino MKC. 2019. Campus Biodiversity Inventory. The Ateneo Wild Project. [cited 2019 Oct 25].
Muvengwi J, Kwenda A, Mbiba M, Mpindu T. 2019. The role of urban schools in biodiversity conservation across an urban landscape. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening. 43: P1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ufug.2019.126370.
Reidy D, Kirrane MJ, Curley B, Brosnan D, Koch S, Bolger P, Dunphy N, McCarthy M, Poland M, Fogarty YR, O’Halloran J. 2015. A journey in sustainable development in an urban campus. In: Filho W, Brandli L, Kuznetsova O, do Paço AMF. Integrative approaches to sustainable development at university level. Cham (ZG): Springer. P599-613.
Roxas M, Cuyegkeng A, Favis AT. 2017. Ateneo de Manila University Sustainability Report 2017 [Internet]. Ateneo de Manila University. [cited 2019 Oct 25]. Available from: http://www.ateneo.edu/sites/default/files/Ateneo_Sustainability_Report_2014-2016.pdf.