Our 1950’s- 60’s, during my childhood experiences, especially, during the warm summer months, were mostly spent either at the “black – hot” sandy beaches of Cavite, or the White Clear Coral Sea Waters of Batangas. These were one of my most happiest childhood days of Adventure and loving Nature.
We hunted and harvested crabs and other forms of reptiles, particularly challenging each other by capturing the largest snakes. These were my ” Pirate Hideouts” of buried Treasures and Exploring the “Wildlife” within the mangroves, that fed a child’s imagination beyond “fiction” stories.. These were Real, tough, dangerous and enjoyable “MANGROVE” days.
But I still recall where the painful experience of stepping on huge thorns that would penetrate my rubber sandals, however no pain or hardship or sunstroke could remove the smile, joy and fun I had with the adventures of the Cavite Mangroves.
Oh what a happy life. I fondly remember those days with my brothers and cousins who loved to stroll up and down the beach, to swim to the farthest sandbar and “camp” and harvest whatever we could from the mangrove along the seas coastline.
Mangroves, like our natural “green” ecological environment is a beautiful Gift of God to Humankind. One of its special reasons to exist is for protecting and sustaining life along coastal seashores & our shorelines. This divine natural blessing, is irreplaceable and Providential for the preservation life and lives. A mangrove is a unique plant sea-garden, with water resistant vegetation, that grows above mean sea level. We see them as trees, shrubs, ground ferns, and beautiful greenery. This type of marine life not only protects marine coastal ecological environment but forms part of an Eco-system, such as a natural habitat for rich marine life.
The word ‘mangrove’ refers to a marine sea-based habitat , in the same way as we think of ‘rainforest’ with a mixture of different types of life forms . MANGROVES form part of a sea-shore habitat called a ‘tidal forest’ or a ‘mangrove forest’ to distinguish it from the trees that grow on the beach sands, mud, riverbanks and in-land shrubs.
Mangroves : “The Protector of our Sea – Shores”
Our Philippine coastlines are vulnerable from waves, typhoons, or storm surge that is why mangroves is a gift of God’ Divine providence and natures’ way to protect and shield our coast lines, because they hold the soil together and prevent coastal erosion. Mangroves shields inland nature,and populated areas during storms and storm surge and have been proven minimize damage to life and property.
A natural mangrove forest, acts as a land -water trap, thereby assisting in the accretion of coastal sediments and further adding to the protection of low-lying inland areas that are also vulnerable to low-tide and high tide sea water movements.
Mangrove forests provide a natural habitat and home for several species fishes, reptiles, micro-organizers, that feed on sea- plants and water based animals like migratory shorebirds that go to the mudflats for food. Birds like the cattle egrets and scarlet ibises establish large communities here while several species of fish, even monkeys, turtles, reptiles such as the crocodiles, lizards and all sorts of fishes that form a “community of Life.. a Natural “Five Cycle” . therefore this unique, irreplaceable Marine Eco-System is Home to Thousands of animal , and vegetative life Were natural refuge finds it self.
Mangroves are natural “nest-homes” for fish nurseries, and they serve as a source of food. Shrimps, and crabs that live in rivers and the shallow areas of the sea shores, provide a safe haven for juvenile fish, shrimp, turtles, snakes and crabs.
Our Mangroves are also indispensable, in protecting us from man- made pollution. Mangroves are Excellent men to break down pollutants, such as ” oil-spills” and play a large role in carbon sequestration (the capturing and storing of carbon ). Imagine, One hectare of mangroves is capable of neutralizing 17 metric tonnes of carbon per year!
Mangroves : Our Natural Green Provider
Mangroves are not only for the protection of our shores, but Sustains Life, Breeds Marine and Animal Life and all sorts of variations. Each Mangrove is Unique as to its Natural Habitat, Location, and serves several purposes, for life, livelihood, and land preservation.
The Black Mangrove is used for fishing poles, charcoal, and in the production of honey, as the mango blossoms give the honey a unique flavor. Because the wood gives off an intense heat, it is prized for burning clay from which bricks are produced and used in rural road building.
The main use of the White Mangrove is for fishing poles, tool handles and as wood for fences.
Mangroves: Our Lifesaver and Shield
Mangroves provide shelter for land-based and sea marine life. One of its greatest contributions due to its strong and long roots embedded underwater, protects the shorelines against earthquakes, typhoons and storm surge.
For example, in the 2005 tsunami in Asia, there were no deaths in the areas which had mangrove forests, compared to those areas without, which suffered massive causalities.
A study in 2009 of the Super Cyclone that hit the eastern coast of India in 1999, showed that villages shielded from the storm surge by mangrove forests experienced significantly fewer deaths than villages that were less protected.
Mangroves protected Vietnam’s coastal inhabitants from the ravages of typhoons and storms. These submerged, coastal forests act as buffers against the sea, reducing potentially devastating 1.5-meter waves into harmless, centimeter-high ripples.
The mangrove program of Vietnam was a worthwhile investment and a success in developing a natural ecosystem that provided the nation for food and protected its shorelines. The planning and protection of 12,000 hectares of mangroves has cost around US$ 1.1 million, but has helped reduce the cost of dyke maintenance by US$ 7.3 million per year. This was indeed a brilliant investment.
Typhoon Wukong that hit Vietnam in October 2000 pummeled three Northern provinces, but left no damage to the dykes behind regenerated mangroves, and no deaths inland of the protected dykes.
With the lives, possessions and property of the Vietnamese saved from floods, the livelihoods of 7,750 families benefited from the replanting and protection of the mangrove forests. Family members earn additional income selling crabs, shrimps and mollusks which mangrove forests harbor – as well as supplementing their diet.
In the Philippines, Mangrove restoration saved a village in Northern Samar during the Yolanda storm surge fury. The tree plantings along the coast, served as a natural buffer against the natural disasters and in a way, protected the in-land fish and crab farms that provides the livelihood to the local villages.
The fattening tie crabs remained burrowed in the mud and were not affected even with strong waves of Yolanda’s storm surge. Mr. Leonardo Rosario, Executive Director of Trowel Development Foundation, testified that mangroves, preserved their livelihood and saved their lives.
Mr. L. Rosario asserted that planting trees along shorelines saved lives is an excellent way of nature’s means for life preservation and economic sustainability.
He added “healthy, properly-functioning ecosystems provide a range of services that are essential to human health, security, and well-being. The Trowel experience speaks volumes to the value of investing in natural capital, and the public service imperative of doing so. Not only does it make good environmental sense, it makes good economic sense. In this instance, mangrove reforestation not only saved lives, it buffered against damage to local infrastructure and prevented potentially sizable losses to the local economy. Governments looking at their public expenditures should take note – environmental restoration is a development and security issue of the highest order”.
DANGERS of NATURAL CATASTROPHE: Government’s Role, Responsibility and Mandate to The Protection of LIFE, PROPERTY and the ENVIRONMENT.
The life and death of mangroves depends on how responsible stewardship is planned, controlled, preserved, and cared for.
It is extremely shocking, nerve wreaking, and sad…going beyond words, that the unfortunate mangroves are being destroyed by misinformed, blinded, greedy Public and Public Sectors.
These Groups and Institutions of Self – Vested Interests, are the DENR, the PHILIPPINE RECLAMATION AUTHORITY, LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS, PRIVATE DEVELOPERS and CONTRACTORS… ” ALL HAPPY ABOUT THEIR HEFTY SHARE OF THE LOOT!
Their Motive? MONEY, MONEY, MONEY… A reclamation Project will kill all sorts of Marine Life and our Natural Mangroves, but these Public and Private Groups of Interest, are motivated buy the BILLIONS of Profits that Reclamation of Sea- Shore lands can Generate. But there is a bloody price to pay… That is the Marine Life, the Eco- Environment, Marginalized People Communities, Livelihood and Life. THE Profit Motive will compromise, any one or any thing that will try to Stop them in their pursue for Wealth and Riches.. This is but part of the “CULTURE of DEATH” that has in a subtle way enter the blind minds of “honorable” individuals… Corporations that preach and proclaim “SOCIAL JUSTICE, CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY BEST PRACTICES & CORPORATE GOVERNANCE will not even think twice, examine their conscience, reflect a bit about the deadly consequences, of killing Mangroves to give way to Reclamation projects…
Developers, Contractors,and business establishments are protected and endorsed by National government agencies and promoted by local government units who justify by their self interest, in the name of “progress and development profit”.
The predominant frenzy to reclaim land along our coastal shores by real estate developers under the protection and “legal” justification of the Philippine Reclamation Authority is nothing but a crime! one of the most irresponsible actions against nature, the environment and life’s ecosystem.
The consequences of destroying mangroves to give way for land reclamation goes beyond tangible values for life, and will be answerable and accountable in the next life and Judgment of God.
These men, government agencies, persons behind real estate development conglomerates and their cohorts shall be judge and condemned not just by these generation but by their own children and grand children and even if they may manage to “get-away” from it in this life, they will have to face a greater judgement. These Pro-Reclamation groups shall be answerable to the millions of lives killed, which will be brought about the destruction of mangroves.
Why? Is all this worthwhile? We all know to well that Profit, Greed and Self-Interest, will stop no one when Billions of Pesos are involved.
Why can’t the persons behind the reclamation of Manila Bay see and realize that this deadly project, will eventually destroy our City! The proponents have no scientific, economic, financial justification. All I see is irrationality, illogical way of thinking, that stems from a lack of understanding. No common sense? Or purely stupidity?
The “self righteous honorable government leaders, legislators, Senators, and businessmen”, with “experts” fail to understand very simple marine science, ecology, the environment and the Cycle of Life.
We are stewards of the land called to protect and nurture its fruits, resources, ownership protection, but it can not and does not give ” legal rights” over the needs of others, in Defense of Live, the Public Safety , Common Good, or do they rather defy , GOD and HIS Providential gifts to Humankind which is found in nature.
We are Stewards of the land and the sea. We are called to infuse the necessary Scientific, Physical, Geological, Economic and Financial forces or resources, for its preservation. By using labor, capital, managerial skills and the passion for life which we need to cherish, nurture, protect and love.
We call on all Responsible Citizens, stakeholders from the public and private sectors to Stop the reclamation of our Coastal Lands, rather, they ought to develop scientific methods in the restoration, replanting, and preservation of mangroves.
In a report last 2010, Mangrove forests in the country are down to only 117,000 hectares from 500,000 hectares in 1918, according to a briefing paper of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
Of the remaining 117,000 hectares, 95 percent representing secondary growth mangroves, only five percent constitutes old or primary water forests mostly found in Palawan.
It was Sometime in the late 1960s that most mangrove forests were converted into fishponds while others were reclaimed for residential coastal communities.
After the devastation of Yolanda, suddenly the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced that it will “earmarked” almost P350 million for the restoration of the “green wall” of mangrove and natural beach forests on the coasts of the Eastern Visayas.
Yet, the DENR contradicts themselves against their own mandate by endorsing the Philippine Reclamation Authorities plan to Manila Bay.
Just recently, Sen. Cynthia Villar asked the Aquino administration to impose a moratorium on reclamation projects because they tend to destroy seaside communities’ natural protection against deadly storm surges.
Senator Villar made the call in a statement as she also lauded President Aquino’s directive to put up more mangrove forests in coastal areas all over the country as a natural barrier against typhoon-generated waves.
Dr. Rene Gayo warned use many times us to protect and proliferate mangroves and now, his predictions are right.
The means are clear, mangroves have to be preserve, the Manila Bay reclamation stopped! S.O.S.. Save our Shores, Save our Lives..