DEFENDING BOHOL THROUGH NATURE

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DEFENDING BOHOL THROUGH NATURE

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One voice picIT IS SCARY the Philippines is Ranked  No 3 in the World Risk Report for Environmental Danger.

But-why not indeed when our natural defenses against attacks of nature like forests and mangroves have been depleted?

From 500,000 hectares of mangroves in 1918 the nation is down to only 110, 000 hectares today. In the last 50 years 9.8 million hectares of forests is gone resulting in a forest cover that dropped from 90% from a recent 1964 to only 10% today.

Our defense against storm waves or surges, flooding and wind gusts have, therefore, been decimated to a large degree.  To cite an example, a weekend magazine cited that the town of General Macarthur in Samar was precisely saved from the devastation like that of Leyte due to Yolanda because of the presence of thick mangrove vegetation

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If one looks over from an airplane , one sees the need to reforest some of our denuded mountains in Bohol and to continue propagating our   mangrove plantation -which is present in 45 of the 47 towns and a city in the province. Much can still be done..

Most people take mangroves for granted simply because they can be seen in abundance-but we failed to educate people about its value in the ecosystem. But per the Fisheries Department, the economic value of of a complete mangrove ecosystem is US$600/hectare/year or because of mangroves, a total fish production of US$83 Million in the Philippines is achieved in one year. Why  is this so?\

Mangroves are the natural sanctuaries and breeding sites of fish, crabs, shrimps and other marine life and protect them from predators. The mangrove also is a natural filter that prevents in-land toxins from going into deeper waters and endanger the health of the fish catch for human consumption.

Even the bangus and prawns spend their early lives in the confines of mangroves. It is often said the mangroves collectively render a life support system to 75% of the total fish catch .

Given Bohol’s wide mangrove coverage, it stands to reason that a large quantity of fish should teeming  around the Bohol seas. Why ,therefore, we have scarcity of fish that results in their high price is quite another story.

Mangroves produce a waste matter called detritus that serves as animal feeds and has resulted in the visitation of schools of birds and some primates like monkeys using  as their habitat and breeding grounds.

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As an environmental protection, mangroves is said to dissipate 70-90% of the wind generated waves that protect inland areas from giant water surges. It is said that we have generally ignored the fact that the vulnerable towns of Getafe ,Talibon and Buenavista have been amply protected from nature’s harm because of these thick mangrove foliage.

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Often cited as a one example of conscious mangrove development that should be emulated elsewhere in the province are those in the Baconan and Calituban islands now expanded to 1,000 hectares aided by the greening and reforestation programs of the DENR in Bohol.

Some of these mangrove plantations have provided an alternative source of income- which is eco tourism which we feel should be pushed harder considering our natural advantage in mangrove population. Tours through the water pathways with guides or even self kayaking though not yet in breakthrough popularity are gaining significant ground.

There is need to train more technically adept guides to explain mangroves and their role in the ecosystem in order to make the visitor appreciate that he had seen one of the major saviors of our planet from natural annihilation.

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Another source of eco tourism is the  13 kilometer intertidal zone (from Maribojoc to Loon) that grew out of the effects of the October 2013 Earthquake which can showcase the devastation of nature’s fury shown in the death of the mangroves  there that needed the salt water, the exposure of then verdant sea grass and the poor corals and giant clams that have become exposed to sun and toxin by the vanishing or recession of waters.

Mayor Lloyd Lopez of Loon is laying the groundwork for this novel tourism undertaking.We wish him sell.

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Let’s face it-the country is an archipelago situated int he tropics where cyclones are a dime a dozen -that spawn storms and the like. We are in the Earthquake global artery susceptible to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions

We can wait and die while the irreversible trend of  natural destruction continues. Or we can do something about its mitigation-  redeveloping our armory of defense called forests, vegetation and mangroves.

If the best offense is defense-then let us replant trees and vegetables and expand our mangrove sites.Shall we- we mean now, not next year?.

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com

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