By ELLALYN B. DE VERA
January 23, 2012, 2:36pm
MANILA, Philippines — As part of conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines’ mangrove reforestation project, around 10,000 mangrove seedlings were planted in Donsol, Sorsogon to primarily ensure the livelihood of the community.
WWF said mangroves, locally called “bakawan,” constitute one of the most productive of marine habitats that generate 500 kilograms of seafood per hectare annually.
Together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Tourism, Armed Forces of the Philippines and numerous local organizations, 284 individuals participated in the INDRA and Fluor Daniel Philippines-funded project in Barangay Sibago, Donsol, Sorsogon.
WWF also noted that mangroves are capable of absorbing significant amounts of carbon dioxide, considered the major culprit for climate change, as well as it protects coastal communities from violent gale winds and waves caused by typhoons.
“Whale sharks congregate in Donsol because of all the plankton. Plankton consumes nutrients discharged by Donsol’s still-healthy rivers, one of the few habitats where fireflies still thrive. Remove mangroves and the fireflies shall be driven off. Without the healthy rivers needed by fireflies, plankton populations cannot bloom and the whale sharks will migrate elsewhere. If one component crashes, the others follow suit. This can be catastrophic for the people of Donsol,” WWF-Philippines project manager Raul Burce explained.
Donsol’s Municipal Tourism Office estimated that the 2010 season alone generated over P100 million (US$2.3 million) from transportation, food, lodging, registration fees plus whale shark, mangrove and firefly tours.
About P20 million (US$465,000) was retained by the local government, bolstering incomes and improving lives. Likewise, a total of 24,191 local and foreign visitors swam with whale sharks from December to June 2011. “Tourism gave us a big boost. We were able to buy an outrigger boat, household appliances, plus my children were able to finish school,” 36-year-old Jasmine Yanson, mother of seven, said.
WWF noted that it is important to conserve not just whale sharks, but mangroves and other critical ecosystems, which ensure the livelihood of the natives of Donsol. The group noted that the loss of mangrove forests expose coastal communities to increased flooding, faster beach erosion, saline intrusion and severe damage from intensifying storms.
In 2007, DENR and National Mapping and Resource Information Authority estimated Philippine mangrove cover at 289,890 hectares, an improvement from the 112,000 hectares remaining mangroves in 1998. “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,” WWF-Philippines vice-chairman Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan said.
- Massive mangrove project to bring fireflies to Donsol (sorsogoncity.wordpress.com)
- Donsol’s mangroves: Conserving nature’s resources (sorsogoncity.wordpress.com)