Mangroves take spotlight during Ocean Month
MANILA, Philippines—Mangroves take center stage in the observance in May of the “Month of the Ocean” as environment officials draw attention to their role as natural barriers against tsunamis and storm surges during extreme weather events.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the activities for Ocean Month would emphasize the important role that mangroves play in protecting coastal communities.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Mangroves protect. Protect mangroves,” said Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.
In a statement, Paje said the theme was timely and significant in light of the destruction wrought by Supertyphoon Yolanda, the strongest tropical typhoon ever to make landfall, which devastated Eastern Visayas last November.
“Unfortunate the disaster may have been, Yolanda undoubtedly was an instant education for the Filipino people on what storm surges are, and was a rude awakening of sorts on the state of our coastal communities and their lack of protection from these natural events,” Paje said.
The environment chief said Yolanda and other extreme weather events should not be considered the “new normal” as impacts of climate change continued.
But the good news is, he said, mangroves can help coastal communities adapt to climate change.
“We hope everyone now appreciates and understands, more than ever, the importance of protecting and rehabilitating our mangrove forests,” Paje said.
“Mangroves protect us not only from strong waves and storm surges, but also help clean the air and water along our coastal zones, and provide food security and livelihood to the communities,” he added.
The DENR, together with its partners in both the private and government sectors and environmental groups, will kick off the Ocean Month celebration at the DENR grounds in Quezon City on May 5, with Director Theresa Mundita Lim of the Biodiversity Management Bureau giving a talk about the festivities and the unveiling of the MOO 2014 logo.
The new logo features elements that incorporate the role of mangroves in protecting communities and other benefits they provide, and conversely, the need for humans to be responsible stewards of nature, according to the DENR.
Before the kick off, “Shore It Up,” a project of Metro Pacific Investments, will launch Mangrove Protection Information Centers in Pangasinan and Bohol provinces from May 1 to 4, and hold cleanup activities along the shores of Bohol.
On May 5-10, the DENR will take part in the 6th National Scout Venture Camp in Lingayen town in Pangasinan, administering lecture, environmental games and chants, and interactive exhibit to some 4,500 scouts from all over the country.
A bike tour, with “Padyakan: Sagip Bakawan” as its theme, will be held on May 18 from the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City to the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area.
The tour will culminate in a mangrove cleanup at the ecotourism area to be led by Firefly Brigade, a volunteer group of cyclists advocating cycling as a cleaner mode of transportation.
From May 1 to 21, environmental partners World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), Conservation International-Philippines, and Conserve and Protect Oceans, Inc. will hold the “Bayani ng Bakawan” short video essay event.
Presidential Proclamation No. 57 issued in 1999 declared May as the Month of the Ocean.
The law mandates the DENR and the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to spearhead the observance of Ocean Month and highlight the need to conserve and protect the country’s coastal and ocean resources.
The Philippines is home to 47 true mangrove and mangrove associate species.
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