Saving Our Mangroves for Future Generations - CT

It is heartwarming to learn that a handful of private organizations and local government units have taken it upon themselves to augment the national government’s woeful effort in preserving and protecting mangroves in this island paradise.

Discarding the decade-long practice of planting trees along roads where most of the mature trees would be cut down by Ficelco linemen, the administration of Mayor Santos "Doc" Zafe has embarked on a mangrove reforestation program that has so far planted 35,000 propagules in nearly eight hectares of swampland in five coastal barangays.

Similarly, the Rotary Club of Virac is pursuing its "Rota Tree Mangrove Planting" campaign to educate coastal residents and fishermen in Bato town on the importance of mangroves and the vital role they play in the global environment. Recently, they were assisted by FICELCO, 905th Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary Squadron, Kabalikat-Civicom, barangay and municipal officials and the DENR in planting propagules as their contribution towards preserving the Bato River-Cabugao Bay estuarine as breeding ground of fishes and other marine denizens.

Mangroves, aside from serving as breeding ground of fish, also play a role in preventing disasters as they are a natural barrier against destructive storm surges and tsunamis. Local governments and even residents can likewise help in preserving mangrove areas by prohibiting the cutting of bakawan for use in firewood in bakeries.

There is also a need to push the national government into pursuing an aggressive mangrove protection and preservation program, starting with a nationwide survey of mangrove areas. It is lamentable that while we have an idea of the total hectareage of mangroves in Catanduanes at an estimated 1,500 hectares, we do not have its breakdown by town or village.

Aside from the big swamplands one passed by along national roads, there are many other smaller areas in barangays around the province’s coastlines on which the survival of fish species, and consequently the livelihood of marginal fishermen, depend. There is no need to remind every citizen that we should at least try to reduce the damage we inflict on the ocean, our ultimate garbage bin, by providing its denizens a sanctuary in our mangroves.

Source: Editorial Page, Catanduanes Tribune - 12 August 2009