Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Loon, Maribojoc uplift as 
nat’l geologic monument?

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, November 18, (PIA) –-The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) considers declaring the uplifted shores of Loon and Maribojoc a National Geological Monument (NGM), but residents in these areas may not like it. 

An eventual declaration of the uplifted areas could mean limited access to the fishermen and residents who have live life of gleaning, spear-fishing and other marine-related activities, a local artist and self-confessed environment advocate feared. 

According to Rene Eune Ponte, a declaration may mean the national government taking full control and management of the area, to the detriment of communities who live by the shorelines, having a say at what is best for them. 

Made an irritating issue between government and fishermen who started building boat-huts across the 50-100 meters so they could be closer when the waters retreated after the earthquake, the uplifted reefs now become a DENR object for preservation and conservation. 

A year ago, a devastating earthquake shook Bohol and its neighboring provinces. This resulted in the uplift of portions of the intertidal zone within waters of Loon and Maribojoc in western Bohol. 

And, for various reasons, the uplift becomes an object of interest of the community members, scientists, national and local governments, land use planners, and private individuals. 

This pushed the DENR Secretary to consider the declaration of the area as NGM by the National Committee on Geological Sciences (which is under the DENR). 

The DENR believes by so doing, it assures protection and conservation of the features exposed after the October 15, 2013 co-seismic uplift, according to a paper submitted by the DENR Mines and Geo sciences Bureau (MGB). 

Earlier, an MGB team undertook a rapid assessment of the uplifted coastal zone in Loon and Maribojoc. 

“The uplifted area is a predominantly marine carbonate platform with patch coral reefs stretching from north of Loon town center southward and eastward to Barangay Guiwanon in Maribojoc,” a line in their report reads.

The team concluded that the approximately 11.5 kilometers length of emerged shore, mostly ranging in width from 200-250 meters, is the pre-earthquake foreshore (or intertidal) zone. 

“Based on the present height of the notches that mark the pre-earthquake eroding zone and high tide line, the earthquake raised the rocky shoreline and adjoining foreshore by at least 0.7 meters with a consequent seaward regression of the high tide line by about 50-100 meters,” their observations stated.

Within the intertidals, MGB pointed out that everything in from coral patches and breaks in the rocks accentuating the monotonous landscape, to the shells and other evidences of the former biota of the intertidal zone, the regenerating mangroves; all are of “geoscientific and ecological importance.” 

“The features should be conserved and protected for the appreciation of present and future generations, and to educate the public on geological phenomena associated with tectonics as well as biological and ecological succession of various species of plants and animals that normally follow abrupt changes in the environment,” the reports bared.

For this, the DENR recommends a 2-stage Action Plan for the coastal areas’ preservation, as in the designation of a Geo-conservation Site by the secretary and to be followed by detailed studies for the formulation of a Management Plan and establishment of a Bohol Geopark that would include the uplifted area as one of the areas of geological significance.

A marker or signage with the Declaration will put up the explanation of the geological phenomenon that led to the uplift and exposed features that are of scientific and educational significance and worthy of preservation for its ecological and geo tourism value. 

The designation hopes to protect locally and nationally important geological and ecological site; increase public awareness, understanding and enjoyment of the landscape, rocks, fossils, biota and provide an environment for learning about local geology including how certain geological phenomenon can abruptly change the landscape and biota. 

Then, a detailed study on the formulation of Conservation and Management Plan as well as the establishment of the Bohol Geopark leads to the endorsement of the proclamation of the area as natural monument under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS).

The Bohol Geopark establishment will raise to international community the geo/eco tourism values of the Uplifted Terrane and the many other tourist areas in the province of Bohol, said the MGB in its recommendation.

But for residents, when the DENR starts solo managing the site, small fishermen would bear the brunt. 

“See, we have to manually haul our boats from the boat-houses on the base of the cliffs across 50-100 meters of dried intertidal zones, and finding a way is no joke. How could we do that when the area could not be opened for our access?, a fisherman asked. 

Why don’t we allow the people to decide what to do with the area, the same fisherman asked in Cebuano. 

Maybe, they can allow the town to manage the area and find portion of the areas suitable for scientific study, others for livelihood, tourism activities and sports and recreation sites, he suggested. (RAC/PIABohol)

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