Mangrove planting tagged ‘awe-inspiring’By Delfin T. Mallari Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon
MAUBAN, Quezon—When Teresita Bibit, 68, stepped out of her house in Barangay San Lorenzo here along the coast of Lamon Bay early Saturday, she was greeted by the sight of hundreds of volunteers, each holding mangrove propagules while wading in muddy shores toward a barren mangrove area.
“Thank God our place will now have protection from the sea that has been slowly invading us ever since,” Bibit said.
Pointing to a lone mangrove tree standing some 200 meters from the coastline, Bibit said there used to be houses from the shoreline up to that mangrove tree but the neighborhood has been slowly “receding” as the sea eats it up.
Mauban, 157 kilometers southwest of Manila, faces the Pacific Ocean.
Residents built a seawall from piles of boulders several years ago to protect the village from further erosion.
“We will take care of the newly planted mangroves because that will save our place from extinction,” said Bibit.
The sight of the mass of volunteers—students, soldiers, policemen, nongovernment and civic organizations, government and private employees— planting mangroves were replicated in 163 other villages dotting the province’s 1,066-km coastline.
The undertaking, dubbed as “Quezon’s 2 in 1” and initiated by Gov. David Suarez, seeks to plant two million mangroves in just one day to rehabilitate Quezon’s coastal areas from long years of natural and man-made destruction.
Suarez, reached by phone, described the mass planting activity as “nakakakilabot (awe-inspiring)” as it was his first time to see a mass of people working together to protect the environment.
Citing reports from other parts of the province, he said public participation was “way, way beyond our expectation.”
Suarez said more than 3,000 volunteers joined him in planting mangroves in the muddy coastal area of Barangay Caraway, Real town, in the northern part of the province, his assigned site.
Manny Calayag, Quezon-Environment and Natural Resources Office (Quezon-Enro) community coordinator, said based on reports from different monitoring stations, at least 50,000 people took part in the event.
Quezon, the eighth-largest province in the Philippines, has an area of 892,601 hectares or 8,926 square kilometers. Thirty-four of its 42 towns are coastal municipalities—17 along Lamon Bay in the Pacific Ocean; 12 in Tayabas Bay facing the China Sea; and five in the Ragay Gulf.
Romulo Edaño, Quezon-Enro officer in charge, said 2.2 million mangrove propagules from local and other sources were distributed to different planting sites two days before the event.
Calayag, who monitored the event aboard a private helicopter lent by a project sponsor, described the morning mass planting activity in northern Quezon as an “inspiring success.”
He said some volunteers, particularly those from outside the province, spent the night in their assigned planting areas to start early and “to watch the beautiful sunrise” in Quezon’s seas.
Mayor Joselito Ojeda, of the fishing town of Mulanay, said residents trooped to the banks of the town’s river and shorelines to rehabilitate mangrove areas.
Calayag said most mangrove areas in Quezon were destroyed by the wanton cutting of mangroves for fishpond expansion and charcoal production.
The province is home to the 145-ha Pagbilao Mangrove Forest, said to be the second most diverse mangrove forest in the world.
Mangrove forest, also known as the “rainforest of the sea,” is an important part of the marine ecosystem as the roots of the trees provide shelter for marine life while their fallen leaves become feed for fish and other marine animals.
Cutting of mangrove trees is banned by Presidential Decree No. 705 or the Forestry Code of the Philippines and Republic Act No. 8550, otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code.