The Current State of the Bicol River

  • In general, the Bicol River is ecologically stable but is facing heavy pressure from the growing riverside population and increasing anthropogenic interventions. The RRA has shown that currently there are 30,114 households along the Bicol River and 3,992 of these are found within the 30-m easement;
  • Wildlife diversity and abundance is low with most species confined to the upper half of the Bicol River. The lack of ecologically important plant species for birds and other wildlife, and the non-ideal period of conducting the assessment outside of the migration season affected the outcome of the avian survey.
  • Riverbank erosion, solid wastes and pollution from domestic and commercial establishments are considered to be the most serious threats to the Bicol River. The presence of coliform bacteria in the Bicol River has not been determined by the present studies although results of the RRA indicated that human excreta is being thrown or discharged into the river;
  • Results of water analysis have shown that the quality of water in the Bicol River is within standards set by law. The classification of the Bicol River based on the results could be B and C, which is possible when the DENR assigned double classification to 133 rivers in 2005;
  • Fishing and farming are the most engaged socio-economic activities of communities living along the Bicol River. But with at least 10,315 people fishing in the river, the possibility of overfishing the Bicol River beyond its sustainable limits is very high;
  • The Philippine Duck, a globally threatened species with an IUCN status of Vulnerable, has a recurrent presence in the Bicol River but the specific area frequented by the species will have to be determined;
  • The Bicol River has limited ecotourism potential with only Doncilla Island and the Sibagat Rapids exhibiting the most promise. Short-distance river cruises and boating activities need further studies.
  • The Bicol River is an open system making it a challenging management concern, and activities such as illegal cutting of trees and transport lumber, charcoal and other similar products are common.
  • Doing vegetative rehabilitation of many ecologically compromised riverbanks in Nabua, Bula, Minalabac, Camaligan and Gainza needs thorough study in view of the severity of the damage. Any engineering approaches to recover the riverbanks will have to take into account the option of reclaiming land that has been lost to erosion.
Bicol River

The Bicol River is the eighth largest river in the Philippines in terms of drainage basin size with an estimated catchment area of 3,770 km²

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