Cementos Lima Co. draining Ica wetlands, posing threat to biodiversity and migratory birds

For the past few weeks, Cementos Lima Co. has been draining Ica’s Agua Santa swamps and lagoons, endangering the delicate ecosystem which is home to 36 species of birds, daily El Comercio reported.

“We are losing biodiversity that is extremely difficult to recuperate,” said Carlos Obando Llajarua, President of Ica’s Regional Environmental Council, or CAR. “These wetlands, which have been created by nature over the course of hundreds of years, are refuges for wild animals and birds.

“Because it is a biological corridor… and because of the diversified fauna it still has, the (Agua Santa) wetlands should be considered a protected area, according to the Ramsar Classification System,” added Llajarua.

According to Cementos Lima, however, the Agua Santa lagoons have never been classified as “wetlands” or “marshes,” and many of the lagoons — such as the Las Hienas and Las Dunas Lagoons — have been artificially created as a consequence of the extraction of materials from the soil.

The Ramsar Classification System for Wetland Type is a wetland classification developed within the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an international treaty which provides the framework for the national action and international cooperation for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands. Peru is a contracting party to the Convention.

The Agua Santa wetlands are home to 36 species of birds, of which many fly through the biological corridor on their way to and from Alaska, Canada, the U.S., Patagonia and the Peruvian Andes.

“The birds use the wetlands as corridors,” said a spokesperson for the National Paracas Reserve, David Orosco. “If we drain and make these lagoons and marshes disappear, the birds will have to find and compete for other spaces with other wildlife populations, which significantly reduces available areas for reproduction, feeding and resting.”

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