Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mangroves of Donsol *

Known in Tagalog as bakawan, mangroves constitute one of the most productive of marine habitats generating 500 kilograms of seafood per hectare annually.

Mangroves absorb significant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the major culprit for climate change. The thick onshore hedges protect coastal communities from violent gale winds and waves caused by typhoons. Labyrinthine roots shelter fish and invertebrates while stabilizing sediments and absorbing heavy trace metals to minimize coastal erosion and prevent inland salt-water contamination. Even fallen leaves are used by some animals for food and shelter.
Former barangay captain Florencio Gorordo of Rawis in Donsol says, “Balang araw, makatutulong ang mga punong ire na sumalag sa malalaking alon at malalakas na bagyo.” (One day, these trees will help protect our people from giant waves and strong storms.)
Loss of mangrove forests expose coastal communities to increased flooding, faster beach erosion, saline intrusion and severe damage from intensifying storms.
Mangroves of Donsol - Come Together (Raul Burce)

In 2006 over 1000 stilt homes were swept to sea by unusually high waves in Bongao, capital of Tawi-Tawi. Almost simultaneously, freak waves demolished a further 200 homes in Talisay, Cebu.

An estimated 450,000 hectares once rung the shores of the Philippines in 1918. Up to 75% of the original cover has been lost as a result of the post-war government’s program to develop seemingly-idle mangrove forests into fish and shrimp ponds for profit. Mangrove planting drives have been attempting to remedy this.

In 2007, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources plus the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority estimated Philippine mangrove cover at 289,890 hectares – a morale-boosting improvement over the 112,000 hectares remaining in 1998. WWF and its allies in the public and private sector are now working to restore degraded mangrove habitats to improve the lives and livelihoods of people.

"The key here is balance. Without it, the productivity of our natural systems will crash. Strike a balance between conservation and development and we can ensure sustainability,” concludes WWF-Philippines Vice-Chair and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan

"Mangoves Seedling", Restoring Productivity (Raul Burce)

With 36,289 kilometers of coast and a largely shore-borne population, the Philippines and its thousands of seaside communities are highly vulnerable to the worsening impacts of climate change. Recent storms in the form of Ondoy, Pepeng and Sendong are but harbingers of the future.

* This article edited from the document shared and written by Gregg Yan (Communications & Media Manager of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines)). Log on to to know more of WWF’s work in the Philippines.

There’s no better time to plant mangroves and prepare for climate change than now.

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