Stakeholders fail to solve mangrove planting issues
Kristine B. Quintas/LPM (The Philippine Star) - October 6, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The pressing environmental issue in Bantayan Island, Cebu remained unresolved after the government and private sectors failed to come up with a united stand or solution yesterday.

Marine scientists, non-government and private organizations and Cebu Chamber of Commerce-Bantayan Chapter opposed to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' mangrove planting project, branding it as "inappropriate."

In a public forum yesterday, DENR recommended for the removal of those mangrove propagules planted in seagrass beds and they must be transferred them to areas without seagrass.

"No further planting on seagrass areas is recommended," read DENR's monitoring and evaluation report.

This is in accordance with DENR-7 MBFDP Techno Bulletin No. 1 or the Guide to Planting Site Selection, which explicitly states the exclusion of seagrass beds for mangrove plantation for "they are equally important and highly productive ecosystems."

However, stakeholders particularly the CCCI-BI opposed to the idea.

Gal Menoria, executive director of the CCCI-BI, said they want no mangroves in their coastal waters, saying that the "natural" resources would be altered.

"We can't compromise," he said adding that sooner or later it will still kill or eliminate seagrass.

Also, he said it will affect the livelihood of the fisherfolk and ordinary townfolk.

Menoria said the project does not contribute to enriching the marine biodiversity, instead it further destructs the degrading marine resources than cultivating them.

"Wa ninyo kuhaa lang ang seagrass apil napud ang playground sa mga taga Bantayan. Inyong gi-alter ang naandan sa mga tawo tungod sa mangroves nga maka-bar sa talan-awon," he said.

William Villaver, coastal resource management officer II, backed local stakeholders' on the immediate removal of the propagules, citing it violates DENR Executive Order that disallows the planting of mangroves on seagrass beds.

"Knowing that mangroves and seagrass beds are separate, important and very productive ecosystem in the coastal environment, the planting of mangrove propagules in the seagrass beds is definitely a big misguided activity. The activity must be stopped," he said.

Emma Melana, Chief Science Research Specialist and Regional Director of the National Greening Program, explained that mangroves are vital to the ecosystem as natural buffers of calamities like storm surge.

"We need mangrove to buffer low lying coastal communities from the adverse impacts of climate change-frequent and stronger typhoons and monsoon winds and the eventualities of sea level rise," she said.

She said the 68 hectares of seagrasses are but "small fraction to the thousands of hectares of seagrasses in Bantayan."

Based on DENR's monitoring and evaluation report, of 429 hectares mangrove plantation in four barangays assessed —Luyong-Baybay, Doong, Sulangan and Obo-ob, 145.4 hectares are without seagrasses while 271 hectares are with sparse to partial cover.

Of the 429 hectares 12.6 hectares also are with good to excellent seagrass areas.

With the unresolved issue, Melana said she will forward her recommendations to the DENR regional director.

CCCI-BC, on the hand, will still await the final decision of DENR before it would decide on what to do next. — (FREEMAN)

BANTAYAN ISLAND CEBU CHAMBER OF COMMERCE-BANTAYAN CHAPTER CHIEF SCIENCE RESEARCH SPECIALIST AND REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL GREENING PROGRAM DENR DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES EMMA MELANA EXECUTIVE ORDER GAL MENORIA HECTARES QUOT SEAGRASS
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