News & UpdatesNGOs push for science-based planting in katunggan

NGOs push for science-based planting in katunggan

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The country’s  mangrove expert has urged communities in the Province and their respective local governments to get more involved in taking care of the mangrove areas which not only serve to protect our coastline, but also provide food as a natural habitat for marine creatures.

Marine scientist Dr. Jurgenne Honculada-Primavera recommended that local governments  enact ordinances to safeguard mangroves, provide support for coastal communities residing in mangrove areas, and allocate budgets dedicated for mangrove protection initiatives.

In a forum Mangrove Forests for Climate Change Mitigation conducted last week by the Friends of the Environment in Negros Oriental (FENOr), in partnership with Kahugpongan para sa Kinabuhi ug Kinaiyahan (Kinaiyahan), Oceana, and the provincial Environment & Natural Resources Division, Dr. Primavera stressed on the value of mangroves as a ‘carbon sink’ of the ecosystem.

”There are many goods and services that we derive from mangrove forests. The value of mangroves lies in  coastal protection, water quality, erosion control, flood regulation, especially in the midst of climate change, and the need for carbon sequestration [mechanisms],” Dr. Primavera said.

She said that growing mangrove forests can help in the mitigation of the impacts of global warming.

Mangroves, Primavera explained, capture and store carbon dioxide better than tropical forests can, and help reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere which otherwise, would worsen the “greenhouse effect” and cause temperatures to rise further.

She said another benefit from planting mangroves along our coasts, apart from the seagrass meadows, is the protection of our communities from the negative impacts of sea level rise, flooding and storm surges, and soil erosion.

Dr.Primavera advised, however, that the communities and the local governments plant instead the mangrove species Pagatpat (Sonneratia alba), and Piapi (Avicennia marina), instead of Bakhaw.

She cited studies that have shown how Pagatpat and Piapi were able to withstand peak winds of 270 kilometers per hour during the Category 5 cyclone of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Haiyan, she said, the mangrove areas in Tacloban that were planted with Bakhaw species were totally destroyed. “But the areas planted with Piapi and Pagatpat regrew after the storm,” she added.

She also urged the public to refer to swamps or mud flats like mangrove areas as katunggan; not bakhawan which gives the impression that only the Bakhaw species (Rhizophora) are planted on it.

Meanwhile, Atty. Gloria Ramos, Oceana Phililppines vice president, discussed the legal framework which promotes the protection of existing mangrove areas. She said Presidential Decree 705 states that mangrove forests “shall be maintained and not alienated” and must be “kept from artificial obstruction so that flood water will flow unimpeded to the sea, to avoid flooding or inundation of cultivated areas in the upstream”.

Ramos also discussed House Bill 7767 which, if adopted and enacted, would strengthen integrated coastal management. Included in the proposed legislation are the development of a National Coastal Greenbelt Action Plan for the protection of coastal biodiversity and habitats; the designation and assessment of priority areas of every coastal province like Negros Oriental, and every town and city to be declared as “coastal greenbelts” and to be planted with mangroves and beach forests; and the operational plan for the reversion of all abandoned fishponds to mangroves, through natural regeneration/replanting with locally- appropriate species.

Gary Rosales, Kinaiyahan president and coordinator for Bayanihan para sa Inang Bayan, noted that the Mangnao-Banilad intertidal area, which the locals say used to be a mangrove forest, is ideal for the establishment of one of the “coastal greenbelts” in the Province.

He said it will not only to protect the coastline but also increase marine productivity in the area, and introduce tourism activities there.

Manric Barillo, ENRD chief of Negros Oriental, expressed hope the mayors in the Province’s coastal towns and cities would prioritize mangrove reforestation and rehabilitation in their comprehensive land use plans; as FENOr President Judith Alpuerto called on the mayors of affected local government units to lead in the planting of Piapi and Pagatpat mangroves, and to support the establishment of “coastal greenbelts” in their localities. (With reports from Ma. Nicole Guzarem and Gary Rosales)

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Photo Caption: Dr. Jurgenne Primavera, expert on mangroves, representing the Zoological Society of London.

 

 

 

 

 

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