Sunday, August 15, 2010

Understanding the need to Rehabilitate A Mangrove Ecosystem

When  a coastal town's mangrove resources is in a degraded state,  the need to take  pro active initiatives for its rehabilitation becomes imperative. It requires the collaborative efforts of  DENR , the LGU and the local community joining hands together, doing their share in  cultivating it's re-growth, and bringing  back  it's status to a level where it was decades ago. 
Given it's continuous degradation and the geographical location of a coastal town set  in a typhoon prone belt,  the mangroves ecosystem can no longer  help the town  reduce its vulnerability to environmental  shocks  and stress during natural disasters (typhoons), the time of occurrence of which can not be readily fore casted to date being an Act of GOD (aog) as aptly called in the insurance parlance.
A coastal town being perceived to be as a  good retirees haven will soon  lost its glory when it becomes catastrophic prone, therefore the chance of  it to be upgraded  from a Class C  municipalities will remain in limbo.

Below is a literature  to help us understand the importance of a sound and ecologically balanced mangrove system.. 

Mangrove Ecosystem Services
Through this project the impoverished coastal communities will be able to utilise the environmental services that a healthy mangrove forest provides such as:

Food, nesting and nursery grounds

Many animals including commercially important fish, prawns and crabs spend a part of their lives sheltering and feeding in the complex network of mangrove roots or nesting and hunting on the substrates formed by the mangroves, supplying coastal communities with a sustainable food source.

Improved access to safe water and sanitation

Mangroves are the Earth's natural filtering system, capable of absorbing pollutants such as heavy metals and other toxic substances, as well as nutrients and suspended matter (e.g. sewage).
Not only this but they facilitate soil accretion thus stabilising the coastline by catching sediment washed downstream. This essential service helps to protect coral reefs and sea grasses that have developed a dependent relationship with mangroves over thousands of years.
Corals and sea grasses need clear water in order to feed, photosynthesise and thrive creating yet more habitat for all manner of marine creatures.

Reduced vulnerability to environmental shocks and stresses

Mangroves and coral reefs form natural barriers which provide shore protection both under normal sea conditions and during typhoons.
At least 70-90% of the energy of wind-generated waves is absorbed by mangroves depending on their health and maturity. Mangroves also provide a buffering capacity to tsunamis for which Panay is a high risk zone.

Carbon dioxide absorption

Mangroves absorb carbon dioxide, storing carbon in their sediments therefore lessening the impact of global warming.
By reinstating the buffering capacities of the coastal mangroves and the legally mandated 'green-belt' along the inlets, the reverted mangroves will reduce the vulnerability of the coastal communities to environmental shocks and stresses caused by storms and typhoons.
It will also help with the constant coastal erosion leading to property loss and improve water quality for associated marine ecosystems, providing safe haven and nursery grounds for important marine species.

Ecosystem Goods

Mangroves not only supply a rich and diverse habitat for wildlife but indigenous peoples have relied upon mangroves for thousands of years to sustainably provide:
  • Firewood
  • Medicine
  • Food
  • Construction materials
All of these natural ecosystem services will improve access to food resources and increased income for the coastal communities through sustainable livelihood initiatives.
By way of this notes, may all concerned be awaken from deep slumber and do something for its rehabilitation because it will take a minimum of  6 to 9 years before they will fully bloom and be of service to humanity. The following successful rehabilitation story is a testament to its usefulness.
May 2010
Barangay Imbo, Anda, Pangasinan

Words cannot describe how I felt that day when, nine years after planting the seeds- or should I say "propagules" - in the almost barren shoreline of Barangay Imbo in Anda Pangasinan, I was able to finally the see my "babies" all grown up. Standing tall, ready to protect the barangay and ever prepared to nourish the people with marine products that it hosts, the once fragile mangrove nursery that the community painstakingly cared for has turned into a thick almost-forest like fortress. A green belt that now embraces the shore of Imbo.
Community members whom we once worked with for the Community-Based Coastal Resource Management Program in the area were proud to share how these green belt have protected the families living along the shore from storm surges which occured in two to three years ago. The mangroves have also lessened the impact of the deadly Typhoon Emong which ravaged the area in 2009. As a result, they have continuously expanded their mangrove area to other parts of the barangay shores. Other neighboring barangays have also followed their lead and are now implementing their own mangrove rehabilitation projects.

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