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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

DENR project protects Taklong, Tandog islands, Visayas provinces hit by ‘Yolanda’

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has supported policies for the protection of the Taklong and Tandog Group of Islands Natural Park (TTG-INP) in Guimaras, Iloilo and other Visayas provinces that are struck by severe typhoons as Yolanda and Odette.

Taklong Island National Marine Reserve

   In a partnership with the Federal Republic of Germany, DENR has started developing policies and legislative support on TTG-INP under the “Sustainable Coastal Protection through Biodiversity Conservation in Coastal Ecosystems Affected by Typhoons in the Philippines” (PROCOAST).

   “The project aims to improve the protection of coastal areas and the people who live there from the effects of climate change,” according to Michelle I. Yu and Eddie B. Abugan Jr of DENR’s Foreign Assisted & Special Projects Services (FASPS).

   PROCOAST has a total project cost of E4.8 million (P275.418 million) including funds from the German government and the Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. It is implemented by Germany’s Deutsche Gessellschaft fur International Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Also an executing partner is DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB).

   Support for drafting national policies has been completed by PROCOAST on the following, according to the FASPS report:

 1.  Establishment of Taklong and Tandog Group of Islands Natural Park as component of NIPAS (National Integrated Protected Area System). House Bill 10643 seeks to declare TTG-INP as a protected area to be overseen by a Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).   

   Among PAMB members are DENR Director-Region 6 (Western Visayas), Guimaras governor, Senate/Lower House representative, and representatives from Indigenous People, private sector, academe, and non-government organization.

 2.  Integrated Coastal Management Bill (ICM). The ICM (Senate Bill 1920, Senator Risa Hontiveros) seeks to promote sustainable development of coastal and areas –protecting the environment while providing livelihood for its nearby residents. It will provide support for local government units (LGUs) to come up with an ICM program.

   “A national ICM program will (enable us) to realize our goal of achieving food security, sustainable livelihood, poverty alleviation, and reduction of vulnerability to natural hazards while preserving ecological integrity,” according to SB 1920.

3.  National Coastal Greenbelt Bill (NCGB). The NCGB (Senate Bill 1927, Senator Risa Hontiveras) seeks the protection and expansion of mangroves, salt marsh, and seagrass meadows all known as the blue carbon ecosystem. The bill noted the death of more than 6,200 people and four million who lost their homes due to super typhoon Yolanda.

   “As the Philippines’ 36,000 kilometer coastline is among the longest in the world, coastal greenbelts effectively mitigate the damaging impacts of waves and storm surges,” according to NCGB.

   “Disaster preparedness comprises a whole suite of items, such as early warning

systems, elevated shelters, hard engineering (e.g., breakwaters) and green engineering/infrastructure.”

   Mangroves are estimated to have a value of $14,000-16,000 per hectare for its coastal protection value, according to NCGB.

PROCOAST accomplishments

PROCOAST will further document typhoon impacts on the targeted provinces– assessing their preparedness. It will support MPAs or marine protected on local ordinance formulation.

   Among PROCOAST’s accomplishments so far are policy support for eight sites in Negros Occidental and Iloilo and tourism planning for Concepcion and Ajuy local government units. It has also produced a Mangrove Ecopark Manual.

   It conducted social marketing for the Sagay Marine Reserve in Negros Occidental, Philippines’ largest marine reserve with 32,000 hectare-area, while protecting its reefs — Carbin and Maca Reefs.

   It also did social marketing for the Tanon Strait Protected Seascape in Negros in Cebu which is known for whale and dolphin watching.

   It has trained 9,000 individuals and 30 trainers on species on coastal protection.

    PROCOAST has put up six Centers of Learning (COL) in an aim to establish venues for promoting innovative measures through learning visits, peer-to-peer exchanges, and training workshops. The COL’s establishment was with the aid of GIZ and Zoological Society of London.

   The COLs have been established in Concepcion Marine Protected Area, Concepcion, Iloilo; Pedala Integrated Mangrove Ecopark Ajuy, Iloilo; and Leganes Integrated Katunggan Ecopark, Iloilo.

   The main COL is in Taklong Island National Marine Reserve (TINMR), Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. Two other COLs include locations outside ILoilo– Sagay Marine Reserve, Negros Occidental and Katunggan it Ibajay, Aklan.

   The TINMR covers 46 islands and the coastal barangays of La Paz and San Roque under Presidential Proclamation 525. Its 1,143-hectare area consists of 183 hectares of terrestrial area and 960 hectares of brackish and marine water.

   “TINMR’s rich biodiversity prides itself of 64 species of birds, 16 species of reptiles, 8 species of mammals, 114 species of hard corals, 17 species of soft corals, and 9 species of seagrasses,” according to RA 11038.

   The islets are covered with indigenous plant species such as Molave, Magtalisay, Pandan Dagat, Kamachile, Batino, Passi, Duhat, and Pitogo.

   Among the mangrove forests are Bacauan scientifically called Avicennia with specific species such as Api-api, Bungalon, Pagatpat, and Bantigue.

   Wildlife species inhabiting the area are Island Flying Fox, Western Visayas Water Monitor and bird species including Philippine Pied Fantail, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Olive-backed Sunbird, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Pied Triller, White-collared Kingfisher, Asian Glossy Starling, Large-billed Crow, Blue Rock Thrush, Common Emerald Dove, White-breasted Woodswallow, Philippine Coucal, Philippine Night Jar, and Black-naped Tern.

   Some of the birds there are threatened species such as the Philippine Megapode or Tabon Scrub Fowl which is often foraging and laying eggs in Taklong and in Apugan Islands with their nesting sites sighted in Kaliruhan.

   Endemic Philippine Ducks or Anas luzonica have also been located at the Suba Malawig mangrove area.

   PROCOAST has extensive coverage of coastal protection in the Visayas including Region 6 (Aklan, Antique, Guimaras, Iloilo, Capiz, Negros Occidental) and Region 7 (Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Siquijor).

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