Bohol head-starts country's
mangrove recovery program
TAGBILARAN CITY, February 18, (PIA)—The struggle to regain the 300,000 square hectares of mangroves which the country lost in the last 500 years gets a good head-start as fisherfolks and people’s organizations of Danajon Bank specifically Banacon Island presents the 3,760 hectares of mangroves the communities here have planted since 1957.
And in return, when the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been funding reforestation projects under its National Greening Program (NGP), Banacon mangrove planters gets the promise of more funds from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
GCF is a unique global initiative established by 194 governments to respond to climate change by investing in low-emission and climate resilient development to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries and help vulnerable communities adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
GCF spends for these initiatives from the contributions of richer countries with carbon emissions helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change, explains GCF executive Director Javier Manzanares, at the gathering of volunteer mangrove planters amidst the vast tide flats of Banacon.
The DENR through Secretary Regina Paz Lopez has successfully brought to the massive tide flats of Banacon Island key officials of the GCF, whom the Philippine delegation met during an environment forum in Marakech Morocco, barely three months ago.
"When we went to Marakech, Secretary Lopez was converted, she wants to plant mangroves and protect communities," narrated Undersecretary Sylvia Ordoñez, who was among the Philippine delegation to the forum.
Ordoñez, the presidential designate chair of the National Resource Development Corporation told the people gathered at the vast plantation of three year-old mangroves that when the Spaniards left the Philippines, there were about 500,000 hectares of mangroves in the country.
The country now has only about 200,000 of mangroves left, she added.
Sec. Lopez, who could not attend the DENR mangrove reforestation presentation and community engagement with community volunteers accordingly showed pictures of the Banacon manmade mangrove reforestation to GCF during the forum.
Earlier, while in Bohol to inspect the Cambugsay Model Coffee Farm in Ubay last November, Sec Lopez took aerial photos of the Banacon Mangroves when they flew over to Ubay.
"Help us to replant 300,000 hectares of mangroves and bamboo," Usec Ordoñez echoed Sec. Lopez' pleading to the GCF, help us, our funds are not enough, she begged.
The GCF sent Manzanares, a Spaniard and Demetrio Innocenti, an Italian to inspect the mangrove reforestation, which is now considered Asia's biggest reforestation now spanning the 20 kilometer by 2 kilometer flats and shallows of islets of the Calituban Reef; inner barrier reef of Danajon.
"You touch one of the priorities of GCF, we provide the funds, these have been approved ," announced Manzanares in his message to the community.
But whether the funds would include what Banacon Barangay Chairman Rodrigo Ismael brought up at the interaction, it was uncertain.
Chairman Ismael, who bringing message of his people of Banacon sought the DENR for compensation for the 484 hectares of mangroves that the people voluntarily planted between 1957 to 1989.
Led then by Gaudencio Paden who thought mangroves can be a good source of firewood, fish coral stakes and house lumber material, they planted mangroves and harvested its branches.
Recently however, the government has issued the ban for mangrove harvesting, to which, Chairman Ismael said, robbed the people of the rewards for their and their forefather's hard work.
To this, Usec Ordoñez promised "we would repay you in many ways."
"Just keep up the work (reforestation) and we will find ways to help you, we will see what livelihood we can get for you, Ordoñez promised.
Ordoñez keeps a bagful of government stash intended for developing natural resources. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)
Green Climate Fund bigwigs and the DENR led by Usec Sylvia Ordoñez (first row) took the opportunity to get this shot with the vast three to five year old mangroves planted by community volunteers in Calituban Reef of the Banacon Island side. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)