By JOENALD MEDINA RAYOS
CALATAGAN, Batangas – RESPONDING to the ever-increasing effect of climate change, this coastal municipality took the challenge of spearheading massive mangrove conservation and reforestation some 15 years ago.
With the volunteer divers helping the local government in its efforts to start the propagation of mangrove seedlings for replanting, the local folks themselves have realized the importance benefits to the people and to the environment of mangrove conservation.
Mangrove are also known as best partner for Climate Change Adaptation and Cleaner Air. It also prevents soil erosion and flashfloods; a wave buffer during tropical storms, and breeding, nursery and feeding areas for a great variety of life, including endangered and threatened species.
The efforts for mangrove conservation and protection programs and activities started in 1998 at Barangay Gulod, in the municipality of Calatagan, Batangas in the Province of Batangas and initially covers 63 hectares. The area was planted with Avicennia, Sonneratia, Rhizopora species.
First, they organized Barangay level Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council, then federate into Municipal level to MFARMC.
A bolder move occurred in September 2002. The collective efforts of LGU officials under the stewardship of then mayor Sophia Grandeza Palacio, the barangay officials, the fisherfolks, Samahan ng mga Mamamlakaya sa Calatagan (SAMMACA), was also joined by the academe and tourism volunteers.
Way back in the year 2009, Calatagan had a Mangrove Monitoring survey led by Dr. Domingo Bravo of DENR and Conservation International Philippines. Last year 2016 CI-Philippines and the Provincial Government – Environment and Natural Resources Office (PG-ENRO) launched the latest mangrove cover in the Province of Batangas.
Based on the mangrove mapping conducted by the CI Philippines, through its Coral Triangle Support Partnership project, the municipality of Calatagan has the largest mangrove area in the province of Batangas with a total area of 506.756 hectares or 37% of the total mangrove area of 1,365.14 hectares in the province.
To date, both public and private sector became an active part of the mangrove conservation program. Incumbent Mayor Oliver Palacio keeps the efforts of the previous administration sustainable to assure the continued preservation of Calatagan’s ecosystem.
Some 15 years after, the area is now identified as tourism site for Marine Ecosystem or a tour site for mangrove to seagrass to coral reef research purposes, bird watching and other marine species on the floor.
Mangrove snorkeling is part of Marine Ecosystem tour and even kayaking within the inner mangrove pathway while listening to the natural sounds from birds around.
‘Ang Pulo’ Experience
Also in Calatagan, ‘Ang Pulo’ is a beautiful mangrove forest being co-managed by Baranggay Quilitisan LGU and Talimusak, a local people’s organization composed of fisher families.
The Ang Pulo – Calatagan Mangrove Forest Conservation Park is supported by Biodiversity Finance Initiative Philippines (BIOFIN), a convergence of different public and private agencies for environmental protection.
Also, the Sangguniang Barangay of Quilitisan, Local Government Unit, Conservation International, and NGO (CAP Ocean) provided technical and logistical support for the further development of the project.
Ang Pulo facility is characterized by elevated boardwalks, signs, viewing platforms, huts and observation towers, which makes it unique from other beach destinations.
The park boasts of a landing, a nipa hut where guests can comfortably rest, a watch tower that gives one a commanding view of the park and the ocean, a network of boardwork that allows visitors to roam the area without getting wet and a camp site for the more adventurous souls.
The park is home to about 10 species of mangroves which are taxonomically identified, a wide variety of shellfish and crustaceans and other marine life. It also plays host to abundant species of birds, many of which nest and stay in the area to feed in the vicinity.
To generate income for the operations and maintenance of Ang Pulo, educational and recreational tours are being conducted with minimal charge to tourists.
Ang Pulo also offers mangrove study tour, snorkeling, kayaking, gleaning activities and environmental education. This marine protected area (MPA) is recently awarded as the “Most Effective MPA in the Verde Island Passage”.|With reports from Jessie Delos Reyes
NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER: In the previously uploaded story, wrong file photo/s were mistakenly uploaded. Other photos belong to Conservation International and was taken in Silonay, Oriental Mindoro, not in Calatagan. Our apologies for the error.
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