Gov't, groups act to protect mangrove forests in Sultan Kudarat
John Unson (philstar.com) - November 18, 2015 - 1:12am

SULTAN KUDARAT, Philippines - There is this seaside Lebak town in Sultan Kudarat province whose folks are struggling hard to expand patches of municipal mangrove forests now frequented by researchers studying wildlife and marine biodiversity.

It all started in 2004 when residents of Lebak and their mayor then, Gerardo Villasan, cooperated in guarding a 300-hectare mangrove forest in Barangay Taguisa fronting the Celebes Sea.

Barangay watchmen have since been guarding the forests, now being expanded via massive planting by local volunteer groups of different species of trees that can thrive in seashores.

The incumbent Lebak mayor, Dionisio Besana, and his constituent-leaders have actively been protecting the Taguisa mangrove sites, now a sanctuary of birds and fish species that spawn in the seaside flooded forest grounds.

Mauro Delasan, acting municipal environment and natural resources officer, said they want to have the Taguisan mangrove sites declared “protected area” by the national government.

Groups protecting the sites have introduced several varieties of Bakawan mangrove trees into the Taguisa shores as part of the municipal government’s effort to expand the mangrove forests.

There has been natural expansion of the forests in recent years due to silt deposits, swept down by gushing waters from rivers that spring from hinterlands, trapped in knitted roots of Mangroves, compounded with sand forced in by sea waves.

The local government unit succeeded in educating Lebak residents on the need to protect the mangrove forests that there has never been any poaching of birds and spawning fishes and cutting of Bakawan trees in the area in the past ten years.

Tourists from as far as South Cotabato and Gen. Santos City and researchers from different parts of Regions 11 and 12 have been frequenting the mangrove forests for educational purposes.

“What we need now is a water system that can supply drinking water from a spring inside the forests we protect to fishing villages nearby,” Delasan said.

He said they can prevent the entry into the guarded mangrove sites of people in need of safe drinking water once the facility built.

Local leaders have pegged to only about P60,000 the estimated cost of the water system they intend to put up.

The project is to be comprised of a catchment facility and pipes needed to connect the impoundment structure to fishing villages nearby.

BAKAWAN BARANGAY TAGUISA CELEBES SEA DIONISIO BESANA FORESTS GERARDO VILLASAN LEBAK MANGROVE MAURO DELASAN SANTOS CITY SOUTH COTABATO AND GEN
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