Parks and their Environmental/Ecological Value

Parks and their Environmental/Ecological Value

Jul 9, 2024, 7:15 AM
Erlie Lopez

Erlie Lopez


One of my fondest memories as a child in Manila is our grade school excursion to La Mesa Dam. Wouldn’t remember anymore details of our bus ride to a faraway place in Novaliches which we knew then as being outside our city. But clearly, the many trees, a huge swimming pool, picnic tables, the stony stairway to peaks from where we could marvel at the vast open space, told us wide-eyed kids that we stepped into a different world.

Now, that single spot is the newly re-named La Mesa Ecopark in Greater Lagro, Quezon City. I have returned there a couple of times in my adulthood, the last one of which when the late environment icon Gina Lopez helped turn it around from 1999, after years of neglect, into a landscaped lush forest under the aegis of the Bantay Kalikasan foundation of the family-owned ABS-CBN media network. With her in the rehabilitation project were Manila Water, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), La Mesa Ecopark Administration, and the Quezon City government.

As Gina Lopez envisioned, as an environmental NGO leader and later Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the ecopark highlighted its value to the environment and ecology as a biodiversity conservation sanctuary for trees, flora and fauna, birds/butterflies/other friendly species; as support to the adjacent dam/watershed which catches and stores the water flowing from parts of Luzon to supply MM residents and establishments; and as a carbon sink to reduce gas emissions from industrial, commercial, community and household sources thus serving as another human initiative to address global warming. Aside from the landscape aesthetics and environmental benefits, Lopez with her collaborators also intended it for visitors -students, schools, environment scientists and advocates-as an uncaged laboratory for the appreciation of the earth and its species. Truly, a very environmental endeavor in a 33-hectare estate walled in from the congestion, pollution, traffic, concrete jungles of the metropolis.

It’s good news that La Mesa Eco Park has re-opened, after 4 months of transition from its former co-operator, the ABS-CBN Foundation. On June 29, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte along with leaders of the LGU’s partners mainly Manila Water and MWSS affirmed passionate stewardship for the 3-phase rejuvenation of this premier national park. Visitors can then expect an even better destination and more relaxing strolling/nature-reconnecting experience but be forewarned of stricter requirement for online reservation in their website which is another measure to further protect the park’s environmental and ecological value by watching its carrying capacity limits. Hopefully, it will remain in good hands and green heart.

Other than La Mesa Ecopark, there are other parks operated by either LGUs and private subdivisions/estates in the metropolis, growing in number or are being refurbished. Time will come, hopefully, when Metro Manila will not be all giant shopping malls and widely varied restaurants to lure away its residents from stress, struggles, and routine.

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