Garbage getting fewer
Clean-up data reveals
Tagbilaran City, May 13, 2011 (PIA)---ENVIRONMENT authorities said they have seen an encouraging development in the conduct of annual coastal clean up activities.
But even then, they sound the clarion call for more people’s participation in responsible waste disposal for sustainable seas during the celebration of the Month of the Ocean in May.
Speaking at the weekly Kapihan sa PIA aired live over DyTR Am, both Bohol Environment and Natural Resources Officer Nestor Canda and a Capitol based Coast Resource Management Coordinator reechoed the call in the continuing challenge to protect and sustain our seas.
Capitol environmental management office report that the annual coastal clean up activities showed a reduction of collected garbage during clean-ups while they also noted a huge increase of volunteers and groups, said Bohol Environment Management Office (BEMO) CRM coordinator Adelfa Salutan.
The BEMO acts as the secretariat and data collection center for each coastal clean up activities and collates the collection data cards submitted by groups and individual volunteers.
Back in 1997 when the annual coastal clean-up came to be institutionalized here, volunteers reacted positively as Bohol marks the biggest number of clean-up volunteers, and coastal area covered.
The activity has since become a province-wide annual activity while continued information education communication activities focused on proper waste management spread all over the island.
We have to be conscious about the waste we dispose and how we do that because sooner or later, it would go down with the flow of the water from the watershed areas to the rivers and down to the estuaries, affecting sea grass beds, reefs and the seas in general, said PENRO Nestor Canda.
PENRO Canda and Salutan explained that even a casual throwing of a plastic wrapper in an upland community, by sheer law of “water seeks its own levels,” can bring the garbage down to the waterways, joining other countess household refuse clogging drainages, choking coral reefs or poisoning sea creatures.
A garbage thrown from the top of the land’s ridges in the mountains can get down to the sea and impact on the sustainability of the ocean, both stress as the celebration picks up this year’s theme: Protecting the Philippine Ocean: A Ridge to Reef Challenge.
The celebration of May as Month of the Ocean is pursuant to the Presidential proclamation No. 57, in coordination with the Bohol Coastal Resource Management Task Force (BCRMTF) member agencies, we are urging Boholanos to take on the challenge.
To spread the urgency of the need for more participation and community mobilization, the BCRMTF comes out with province-wide activities for the month-long celebration, Salutan pointed out, showing a list of activities.
Part of the upcoming activities include Bike for the Ocean fron Tagbilaran to Panglao and back on May 15 from 7:00 Am, jump-off at the Plaza Rizal; Fun Run for the Ocean from Plaza Rizal to Baluarte in Baclayon from 4:00 PM onwards and the first Bohol Dolphin Festival set May 30-31. (Rey Anthony Chiu)
Sea mammals help group`
Widens rescue coverage
Tagbilaran City, May 13 (PIA)---WITH recent recorded endangered sea animal stranding in Bohol, authorities and wildlife rescue groups mull to expand the marine mammal rescue coverage.
Coastal Resource Management coordinator based at the Capitol’s Bohol Environment Management Office (BEMO) Adelfa Salutan said at least Bohol Rescue Unit for Marine Mammals (BRUMM) believes expanding the rescue coverage would add up to the chances of these marine creatures surviving the already tough environment of the country’s seas.
Salutan said apart from the usual whales and dolphins covered under the marine mammal clause, BRUMM, an inter-agency and social-civic volunteer group wants to put in sea turtles, whale sharks and an identified kind of manta ray: the manta birostris.
Last year, a whale shark was accidentally caught by net fishermen in Ubay Bohol, proving that these animals indeed take on a path of migration that takes them from the shores of Donsol in Camarines Sur to Bohol then out to the seas of Palawan and off to the Indian ocean.
Meanwhile Bohol Environment and Natural Resources Officer Nestor Canda that the seas all over Bohol and not just the southern waters of the island are the areas where sightings of these meek animals are documented.
Sometime last year too, a sea cow (dugong) of the kingdom sirenia was also found dead by fishermen in a town in northern Bohol, adding up to the total documented sightings of marine mammals to over half of all the recorded sea animals sighted in the country.
Most of the sightings however were documented in southern Bohol from the Lamanoc Point in Anda to the seas off Pamilacan and Balicasag islands, environmentalists said.
“In Pamilacan where the traditional pamilac is now stopped, occasional landings of illegal meat from manta birostris is still noted, most of them from fishers of nearby fishing villages who slaughter these animals after being found dead entangled in drift nets and purse seines,” a source who refused to be named said.
“Wish we could so something about these incidents,” the source who also works with the rescue group admits.
“We want to be trained on the ways to respond to cases of accidental entanglements to make sure that we can rescue these animals before they die and get slaughtered instead,” he said.
Reports of sea turtles accidentally caught in drift nets come regularly from all over Bohol from the Maribojoc Bay, to Cabilao, Danajon Reefs and the southern towns, prompting rescue groups to cover them in the distressed animals list for their intervention, Salutan said
BRUMM has already organized town dolphin and whale rescue chapters, but additional trainings on shale shark, sea turtle and manta rays would be a welcome, rescue group members said. (Rey Anthony Chiu)
Chatto swats fears of
“Airport lot instability”
Tagbilaran City, May 13 (PIA)---GOVERNOR Edgar Chatto pushes across the air-lanes all over Bohol the assurances he gets from expert academicians over the posed problems allegedly besetting the structural integrity of the planned new Panglao Bohol Airport.
Chatto, who has been personally leading the campaign to re-convince Boholanos who have doubted the realization of the project announced a few weeks ago that the national government has picked the air facility establishment plan as one of its top priorities for the year.
In fact, the governor said the plan, which was initially slated for funding by the national government is now repackaged and was offered in a private-public sector partnership development plan.
But beset with the delays which seemingly floated negative impressions on its being a part of the political promises that lack any material plan, the airport plan also has several detractors who posed questions about the structural integrity of the acquired lots for the project development.
A vocal critic of the plan alleged that the project sits on a series of sinkholes and has faults that cut across the proposed lots compromising the stability of the project.
At the weekly Kita ug ang Gobernador Friday, and citing the experts’ assessment of the project proposals, that governor said that sinkholes over the place are things that can be managed by the advances in science and engineering technologies.
Chatto also named his newfound allies, academicians who were earlier opposed to the project before they were made privy to the designs.
In a sudden twist however, those who were opposed to the project soon came out with a unified statement of support for the project.
The letter that we received from the academicians and experts who came up with a unified statement of support for the project settles its all, the lawyer governor said.
We fell comfortable that it is not just our own assessment that we use but also of the experts as well, he affirmed, assuring that the project would be pursued even then.
Weeks ago, Transportation Secretary Jose de Jesus, who appeared at the media forum, assured that the new air facility in Panglao would be operational by 2015.
Chatto said even the DOTC, who were first to see the project design decides to pursue the project because they are all convinced of its safety. (Rey Anthony Chiu)
Bilar’s man-made forest:
hardwood for hardwork
“Man-made forest in Bilar, how did you conjure that up?”
The tourist asks the tour guide as the driver gingerly weaves his air-conditioned van through the winding road dividing the wide expanse of red and while mahogany forest as they enter the ghostly light of the Loboc-Bilar forest darkened by a thick canopy of interlacing leaves.
“Manmade forest in Bilar,” the guide responds, is Bilar town’s response to the need to reforest barren areas as a result of “kaingin” and farmland clearings by people who sought refuge in the forests during the World War II.
“So the people hid in the forest and farmed portions of the forest?”
“Yes ma’am, and even in the mountainous areas all over Bohol, the people learned that kaingin leaves behind a patch of rich soil perfect for crash crops,” the guide adds.
“Slash and burn then, didn’t they face problems with erosion and floodings then?”
“History tells us that the problem would even be more serious than that. Even mountain springs easily dried up threatening the nearby river where a hydro-power plant is currently supplying electricity to Bohol.”
“Who started this?” the husband asks, noting perhaps that the problem was traced as early as 1946 when the war ended and peace was restored.
The plan to reforest took seed under then governor Conrado Marapao in 1947 and was molded stronger by then governor Jacinto Borja who found it necessary to rationalize the reforestation program for the mountain areas in Bohol, including, of course this portion.
Streaks of sunlight create interesting shafts of lazer like lights drawing a kaleidoscope of patterns on the zooming windshield as trees whiz by the van’s tinted windows.
Then governor Jacinto Pajo in 1958 carried the seedlings of what would later be called the Loboc Watershed Reforestation Project (LWRP) to the administration of governor Esteban Bernido, which was enforced and protected during the incumbency of Governor Lino Chatto.
“You said it was supposed to be a reforestation all over the mountains of Bohol, why use the name Loboc Watershed Reforestation Project?”
“Two reasons,” the guide said.
“The objective was to ensure abundant water supply the hydro-electric plant in Loboc, and the other was that to attain this, 13 towns within the watershed area would have to do its share,” he said.
Launched in December 1953, LWSP consisted of 19,410 hectares including those in Lila, Loboc, Sevilla, Batuan, Carmen, Sagbayan, Catigbian, Balilihan, Sierra Bullones, Valencia, Garcia Hernandez, Jagna and its most central town-Bilar, the guide enumerated.
By April of 1958, under forester Hipolito Amihan, a central nursery was established in Cambuyo Garcia Hernandez while sub-nurseries were established in every town included in the project.
Later, as Garcia Hernandez is on the outer edge of the forest, the central nursery was moved to barangay Subayon in Bilar, which was later decided to be moved again to Riverside owing to the need for sustainable water supply for its potted seedlings.
That same time, the management of the project was turned over to the Bureau of Forest Development, now the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Later, when the Rajah Sikatuna National Park, now Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape which occupies a big part of the LWRP, two intersecting protected areas needed to be divided.
There, the LWRP consists of nine towns with reduced areas of 10,387 hectares and RSPL owns the remaining towns with 9,023 hectares.
From the nursery in Logarita at Riverside, potted seedlings were hauled in trucks and distributed to all government employees, laborers, students, scouters, pupils and socio-civic volunteers who came in droves from 1968 to late 1970’s, the tour guide explained.
In other areas, we hear problems of logging, do you have them here?
“I’d be lying if I tell you there is no such problem here,” the guide lamely said. “But a lot of people would rather report a person to authorities especially that a no-harvesting policy is implemented here in this portion of forest since 1978.”
The van eased to a tight shoulder blanketed by a thick mattress of mahogany leaves and the tourists piled out to take a few gasps of fresh forest air, posterity shots and simply savor the serenity of the forest.
“Who are these people sweeping?” A male tourist at the back inquired.
“Casual workers from Bilar town Sir, these people who have benefited from the forest are now doing their share, cleaning the tourist stops.”
“A plan to put up a canopy walk and adventure park within this forest would soon add more activities and fun to the experience,” the guide added.
Local leaders under Bilar mayor Norman Palacio have the blue-prints unrolled a comprehensive plan for the Bilar Tourism Park development of their side of the
“Trees with white markings, those were done, accordingly to keep track of trees during a recent census. The distance, and they are quite crowded if you may note, is to make a straight growth where the trees compete upwards to the most sunlight.”
“I sense something odd here, no birds?” the lady tourist asks the guide.
“Indeed, if there are, it would be difficult to find them,” the guide picks up the conversation.
“Mahogany trees do not bear nice smelling flowers, which beckon birds or butterflies, and their fruits are inedible, so there could be no reason for birds to lose itself in the tangle of these branches, the guide pointed out.
Another thing, rotting mahogany leaves on the ground are extremely acidic, often choking other new-growth plants underneath its canopy of leaves.
“Take note however,” the guide takes on the spiel while pointing to a clump of ferns, the oldest known plants, on a rock outcropping.
“Those are endemic ferns, the plants that have the capacity to balance the soil acidity. These ferns actually facilitate the soil balance recovery and in no time at all, we may find other plant species, just like the way the earth was vegetated aeons ago.”
“On the global effort to mitigate climate change, ladies and gentlemen, the Boholanos’ humble contribution can even be more enhanced if, as we get home this afternoon, we stoop down and start planting a seedling per week and we may find out what a forest we can make in a year, the guide said.
Bilar forest tourism park
To feature canopy walks
THE man-made forest of Bilar would soon be the venue of a variety of tourism related activities as local officials roll out a blue print for the mulled Bilar Forest Tourism Park in the heart of the mahogany forest.
According to Mayor Norman Palacio, the plan includes putting up of a board walk and canopy walk from the roadside rest-area towards the century-old nursery which will be transformed into the main hub of the tourism stop.
Bilar, a town belonging to the Tagbilaran-Carmen tourism circuit is faintly known only because of its man-made forest located at its shared boundary with nearby Loboc town.
While some tourist vans now stop at the sanctuary at Simply Butterflies, or take a brief stop at the town market for the rare “alupi” and “pintos,” many admit there is very little activity for tourists in Bilar.
On this, staking its shared claim with Loboc on the forest which has awed most tourists who see the hardworking and environmentally conscious Boholano in every sturdy mahogany, the Bilar Forest Tourism Park was conceived as banking on the rare environmental awareness immersion for the stop.
Part of the development plan, said sources near the mayor, includes setting up of rock-wall climbing and rappelling facilities at the park, one similar to the facilities at the nearby Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape.
As to the funds which would fuel the move, Mayor Palacio revealed that Congressman Arthur Yap has appropriated some P2 million for the planned information center and restroom facilities to be put up at the stop.
Moreover, the mayor showed the town annual investment plan for 2011 which showed P200,000 budget for the construction of a canopy walk and rappelling facility as one of the town’s special projects.
The investment plan would be funded out by the town’s development fund which is equivalent to the 20% Internal Revenue Allotment share, he explained if only to prove that the funds are all in.
The planned canopy and rappelling facility is set to be constructed before the end of the second quarter, according to the plan.
“We are getting alarmed at the practice of tourists braving the traffic if only to have their pictures taken at the roadside stops,” the mayor pointed out.
“Its pretty risky, and what we are putting up will secure our tourists and at the same time properly introduce them to the views of our forest ecosystem, Palacio said. (Rey Anthony Chiu/PIA)
Bilar “going Green”
In its 2011 agenda
It isn’t easy being green but that is what Bilar aspires to do which might be a cause of envy to its sister towns.
Casting a keen eye at the opportunity of hitching into the tourism bandwagon, then sleepy town Bilar is now fully awake and poised to carve its niche in organic farming in support of Bohol’s food security dreams.
Bilar Mayor Norman Palacio in interviews said his administration’s recent concern is setting up the Bilar Green Agriculture which would be highlighted by an organic high value commercial vegetable production program for all of the town’s 19 barangays.
Bilar, which has partnered with a non-government organization in re-introducing the old upland rice varieties in an effort to revert to the old organic rice would be moving in the right direction with the program, said an organic farming advocate.
A town located in the fertile foot of the Rajas Sikatuna Protected Lanscape, Bilar is also blessed with an abundance of fresh water which is essential to agriculture.
Known rice producer and host to two of the islands protected landscapes, Bilar has always been a green town, highlighted by vast rice fields, soaring mountains and verdant forests.
This ambiance also augers well with the town’s decision for a Green Agriculture at a time when the demand for pesticide and chemical free vegetable soars with health conscious tourists spending leisure hours in Bohol resorts.
The program picks out ten farmers from each of the town barangays and gets them into the Farmers’ Field School where they could get trainings on organic vegetable farming.
This is in coordination with Bohol Island State University under campus director Dioscoro Avergonzado, where agricultural trainings on technologies are centered, Palacio said.
The town has set aside fund support for the FFS were a total of P45,000 has been appropriated for trainings, integrated pest management and another P10,000 for integrated crop protection, its annual investment plan for 2011 show.
Moreover, he said the town can supply the seedling requirements for the program aimed at offering alternative and environment friendly farming practices to farmers as well as boosting family incomes.
While most government programs such as these fail on the provision of technical support for promotions and marketing, the local government through Mayor Palacio and Vice Mayor Arnold Calamba, with their partner, commits to market match the farmers and their products to organic food buyers and especially to resorts catering to tourists all over Bohol.
If the program succeeds, we would be privileged to give our people the chance to work out a better opportunity for their future, Mayor Palacio said. (Rey Anthony Chiu)