Month of the Ocean draws attention to mangroves
(The Philippine Star) - May 4, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - As the nation celebrates Month of the Ocean (MOO) this May, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has lined up activities designed to draw attention to the important role that mangroves play in protecting the country’s coastlines and their inhabitants.

DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said this year’s theme, “Mangroves protect. Protect mangroves,” is extremely timely and significant in light of the magnitude of the destruction wrought by Super Typhoon Yolanda which is said to be the strongest tropical typhoon ever recorded. 

“Unfortunate the disaster may have been, Yolanda undoubtedly was an instant education for the Filipino people on what storm surges are, and was a rude awakening of sort on the state of our coastal communities and their lack of protection from these natural events,” Paje pointed out. 

The environment chief said that sadly, Yolanda and other extreme weather events before it are part of the so-called “new normal” as impacts of climate change increase.

But the good news is, he said, mangroves could help coastal communities adapt to climate change. 

“We hope everyone now appreciates and understands, more than ever, the importance of protecting and rehabilitating our mangrove forests,” Paje said. 

“Mangroves protect us not only from strong waves and storm surges, but also help clean the air and water along our coastal zones, and provide food security and livelihood to the communities,” he added. 

The DENR, together with its partners from both the private and government sectors and environmental groups,  kicked off the MOO celebration at the DENR grounds in Quezon City last May 5 with director Theresa Mundita Lim of the Biodiversity Management Bureau giving a talk about the festivity and the unveiling of the MOO 2014 logo.

 The new logo features elements that incorporate the role of mangroves in protecting communities and other benefits it provide, and conversely, the need for humans to be responsible stewards of nature. 

Prior to the kick off, Shore It Up – a project of Metro Pacific Investments – launched Mangrove Protection Information Centers in Pangasinan and Bohol provinces from May 1 to 4. It also conducted cleanup activities along the shorelines of Bohol. 

From May 5-10, the DENR  took part in the 6th National Scout Venture Camp in Lingayen town in Pangasinan, administering lecture, environmental games and chants, and interactive exhibit to some 4,500 scouts from all over the country. 

A bike tour, with the theme “Padyakan: Sagip Bakawan,” will be held on May 18 from the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) in Quezon City to the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA). 

The tour would culminate in a mangrove cleanup at the LPPCHEA to be led by Firefly Brigade, a volunteer group of cyclists advocating for cycling as a cleaner mode of transportation. 

From May 1 to 21, environmental partners World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), Conservation International (CI)-Philippines, and Conserve and Protect Oceans, Inc. would hold the “Bayani ng Bakawan” short video essay event. 

The video essay event  would allow the public, using phone cameras and other video-recording devices, to record videos of how ordinary people commit to care and protect mangroves in their communities. Videos may then be shared through social media pages such as the MOO pages on Facebook, Instagram and Google+, or uploaded on popular websites such as Youtube and Vimeo. 

On May 22, the country would join the global community in celebrating the International Day of Biological Diversity (IDBD) with a theme, “Island Biodiversity.” This will be highlighted by a Youth Summer Camp to be held at the NAPWC from May 22 to June 22; a biodiversity photo contest themed “Protecting the Reservoir of Life, Selfie for Biodiversity”; and the launching of a coffee table book entitled, “Treasures of the Philippine Wild.” 

During the month-long MOO celebration, the DENR would also conduct trainings on mangrove and coastal and marine ecosystems, youth camps, coral reef and mangrove damage assessment, among others. 

Presidential Proclamation No. 57 issued in 1999 declared May as the Month of the Ocean. It mandates the DENR and the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to spearhead the observance of MOO and highlight the need to conserve and protect the country’s coastal and ocean resources. 

The Philippines is home to 47 true mangrove and mangrove associate species.


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