Thursday, January 31, 2008

Villagers Band To Protect Mangrove Forest In South RP

Sarangani Vice-Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon (middle, wearing a cap) leads villagers in planting more than 3,200 mangrove seedlings in the Tinoto in Sarangani's Maasim town in southern Philippines. (Photo by Gandhi C. Kinjiyo)

SARANGANI, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 31, 2008) – Driven by common will to protect the marine resources of Sarangani bay, more than 3,200 mangrove seedlings were planted in the coastal village of Maasim here.
Some 600 residents, young and adults, including local government officials and other stakeholders, from the village of Tinoto concerted their efforts and resources to rehabilitate more than 88 hectares of mangrove forest, home to hundreds of species of marine animals.

“The activity is in line with the observance of the Coastal Awareness Month,” Rolando D. Tuballes, Municipal Environment and Resources Officer (MENRO) of Maasim said.

The Coastal Awareness Month is being held every January.

Tuballes said besides the villagers, the following organizations and also helped in the rehabilitation of the mangrove forests – the RD Foundation, Muslim Business Forum, ABS-CBN Gensan, Notre Dame of Dadiangas University Business Resource Center, and the offices of Governor and Vice-Governor of Sarangani, the Provincial Barangay Affairs Unit, the Local Government Unit of Maasim and the Barangay Council of Tinoto.

The MENRO, which spearheaded last week’s reforestation program, provided the seedlings from Maasim Municipal Mangrove Nursery. Tuballes said a forum on “Coastal Management and Protection” was also held in the compound of Datu Abdul Bale Elementary School in the village last week. It was followed by a medical mission.

“Mangroves serve as barrier against strong wind and current. It also prevents erosion of the coastal areas,” he told the forum attended by hundreds of villagers. “Mangrove forests serve as a breeding ground for bigger fishes and haven for smaller fishes and other marine organisms and we must protect this ground.”

He also warned the locals not to catch smaller fishes because it may break the “food chain” of marine ecosystem. “Smaller fishes are the food for bigger fishes,” he explained. “If we break the food chain in the marine ecosystem, time comes fisher folks would have nothing to catch.”

Karl Vincent Quiepo, executive director of RD Foundation, said they are committed to supporting other activities on environmental protection in the future.

Sarangani Board Member Anecito Lopez III looks said the mangrove rehabilitation in the village of Tinoto would be sustained and eventually other towns would also duplicate the reforestation and protect their mangrove areas.

Vice-Governor Steve Solon stressed the need to protect the mangroves. He added that the activity is an “intergenerational responsibility” that would benefit the people and give “hope to the succeeding generations.”
Tuballes said the locals were active in protecting their environment. “I am delighted by the positive response from our people. They thanked us for giving them awareness on the crucial role of mangrove in the economy and in ecology,” he said.
Last year, a similar activity was also held in the village by the Philippine Environmental Governance project of the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the local broadcasters' association and the local municipal government. (Gandhi C. Kinjiyo)

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