Bid launched to save Philippine coastlines with mangroves – UCA News

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Environmental and Church groups kick off planting project to ward off erosion, damage caused by tropical storms

Bid launched to save Philippine coastlines with mangroves – UCA News
Bid launched to save Philippine coastlines with mangroves

Volunteers from Northern Samar province in the Philippines plant the mangroves. (Photo: Supplied)

By Joseph Peter Calleja Published: November 04, 2022 06:02 AM GMT

Philippine environmentalists have begun planting mangroves along the coastline of the northern Visayas region and southern Luzon to prevent erosion caused by tropical storms.

The Philippine Biodiversity and Conservation Group, together with the bishops’ conference, began the reforestation program along the coastlines of Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar provinces in the Visayas region on Nov. 2.

The Green Earth Foundation planted along the beaches of Sorsogon, Albay, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte provinces in the Bicol region, southern Luzon.

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More than 800 volunteers participated in the mangrove planting project that aims to cover more than 100 hectares in the archipelago.

“It will save thousands of lives”

“We started the project right after Typhoon Paeng [Nalgae] so that the experiences of being swept away by flash floods is still fresh. Taking care of the environment is urgent. It will save thousands of lives,” Biodiversity and Conservation group president Lorenzo Tumasin told UCA News.

Private and Church groups pooled funds to purchase the most abundant mangrove species in the Philippines from local producers — Rhizophora Apiculata.

“There are companies that are engaged in breeding mangroves. They sell them to the government or to environmental groups because they know many are needed to restore coastlines,” Tumasin added.

So far, more than 5,000 saplings have been planted, covering 36 hectares across the Visayas and Luzon regions.

The Philippines has 39 mangrove species growing along rivers and the coast, according to the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources.

Mangroves are known to grow above-ground roots that slow down water flow and encourage sediment deposits that reduce soil erosion, according to environmentalist Arnold Pua.

“Without mangroves, our seafood catch will surely decline”

Pua, who also heads the Green Peace Foundation, said mangrove roots helped stabilize erosion caused by water surges and strong waves that hit the coast.

“They absorb water during heavy rains and storm surges, reducing the chances of coastal flooding. Their roots provide nursery habitat for many commercial fish and shellfish, and thus contribute to a local abundance of seafood,” Pua added.

Aside from protecting humans, the Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has confirmed mangrove plantations protect the country’s lucrative seafood industry.

“In 2022, our revenue from the fresh seafood segment amounted to US$1.65 billion. We are still expecting the market to grow by 7.3% from this year to 2027. But without mangroves, our seafood catch will surely decline,” BFAR spokeswoman Natalie Cadral told UCA News.

Militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) has urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to pursue reforestation of mangroves as a measure to prevent intense flooding caused by sea-level rise, devastating storm surges and other threats of climate change.

“The destruction of mangrove forests exposes fishing families to damaging floods and storm surges. Mangroves are vital to the marine ecosystem and biodiversity as they serve as fish sanctuaries, pollution filters and defense for coastal communities,” Pamalakaya national spokesman Ronnel Arambulo told the press on Nov 2.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines mobilized social action centers in dioceses where mangrove reforestation is taking place by sending volunteers to aid the project.

“More than 50 percent of the volunteers in the project are Church volunteers,” Caritas Philippines’ executive secretary, Father Antonio Labiao Jr, told UCA News.

Those who participated in the project were mostly victims of previous tropical storms.

“We are here because we have experienced how difficult and dangerous it is to live along coastal areas. When typhoons hit, you can only pray for your safety,” Sorsogon parishioner Dennis Domingo told UCA News.

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