Scientists on P1-B mangrove fund: Use wisely | Inquirer News

Scientists on P1-B mangrove fund: Use wisely

/ 12:00 AM April 09, 2014

MANGROVES near a grounded boat in Quinapondan, Eastern Samar province, are showing signs of recovery from the effects of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” PHOTO COURTESY OF JURGENNE PRIMAVERA

ILOILO CITY—At least P1 billion in public funds is available for the repair of mangrove areas hit by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” but the money should not be used to plant new mangroves, but simply protect existing ones, according to mangrove scientists and conservationists.

They also warned the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) against a cash-for-work scheme for storm victims in mangrove areas that could actually do more harm than good to the mangroves.


“It is important that a comprehensive evaluation of the situation of mangrove areas is determined at the ground level before any rehabilitation program is implemented,” said Jurgenne Primavera, a mangrove specialist and retired scientist.


Primavera was part of a team of scientists and members of nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that inspected mangroves in 11 towns and two cities in areas hit by Yolanda in Leyte and Eastern Samar provinces.

At least 28,000 hectares of mangroves in Samar, Leyte, Negros, Panay, northern Cebu and Palawan (about 12 percent of the total mangrove area in the country) are believed to have suffered varying degrees of damage as a result of Yolanda.

At a workshop, scientists and conservationists said the P1-billion fund for mangrove repair would be best spent on research and studies on the actual damage that mangroves suffered and on “integrative science-based interventions.”

“Our initial observations show that the mangroves mostly sustained partial or minimal to no damage and are recovering. The areas do not need new planting, only protection,” said Primavera, who was cited in 2008 by Time magazine as one of its “Heroes of the Environment” for her work on environmental and mangrove protection.

Primavera said a science-based approach to mangrove rehabilitation should be ensured.

“Mangroves are very resilient but it will take three to six months for them to recover from the impact of the supertyphoon,” she said.


“They may appear dead because of the defoliation but most are recovering,” she added.

She said that of the thousands of hectares of mangrove areas her team inspected in Leyte and Samar, only about 200 ha were destroyed.

Primavera said using the mangroves for cash-for-work programs, which involve the planting of new trees or clearing mangroves of dead trees, could actually be harmful to mangroves because even trees and saplings that are recovering could be cut.

Aside from protecting mangrove areas that survived Yolanda, the bulk of the fund should be spent on resettling people living in coastal areas.

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“We believe that the P1-billion rehabilitation fund will go a long way. But only if used wisely,” said the scientists and NGO members in a statement issued during the workshop.

TAGS: Leyte, Mangroves, Negros, northern Cebu, Palawan, Panay, Quinapondan, Samar

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