New mangroves planted in Eastern Visayas

Posted on August 25, 2014

TACLOBAN CITY -- More than 23 million new mangrove trees have been planted to shield coastal communities in Eastern Visayas from sea level rise, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported.

As of end of June, 38,221 hectares have been covered by the P38-million coastal reforestation project under the National Greening Program.

DENR Regional Executive Director Leonardo Sibbaluca said they are targeting to plant 41.59 million seedlings in coastal areas along Leyte Gulf by the end of the year.

“We have seen the protection given by mangroves. In Hernani, Eastern Samar, for instance, the entire town center could have been swept away had there been no mangroves planted in the area. In one village in Tacloban, six people survived by clinging to a mangrove tree,” Mr. Sibbaluca said.

In addition, some 9,300 hectares will be planted with a mix of mangroves and beach tree species.

“We hope to complete the planting by 2015. This is on top of the 19,200 hectares for reforestation under the National Greening Program for this year alone. To combine all programs, our target for reforestation in the next two years is more than 30,000 hectares,” Mr. Sibbaluca said.

The project targets to reforest the coastal areas of Abuyog, Javier, Macarthur, Mayorga, Dulag, Tolosa, Tanauan, Palo, Tacloban City in Leyte; Basey and Marabut in Samar; and Lawaan, Balangiga and Giporlos in Eastern Samar.

Pascual Eduarte, 48, a fisherman from Batang village in Hernani, Eastern Samar, said a mangrove plantation saved some houses in his community from being swept away when super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck.

“There are about 200 houses in our area and only half were left standing after the super-typhoon. About 28 people in our village were killed. Had there been no mangrove trees, all houses would have been gone and there would have been more casualties,” Mr. Eduarte said.

Mr. Eduarte is among those planting mangroves, earning P260 daily through the cash-for-work program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. -- Sarwell Q. Meniano