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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Gov’t takes steps to protect PH mangroves

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The government is stepping up efforts to stop a decline in mangrove resources and safeguard the country’s ecosystems.

“Amid the climate emergency and destruction of mangroves, everyone has the ability to make a difference by tracking and protecting our natural resources,” DENR Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga said last week.

Earlier, the DENR ordered an immediate assessment of abandoned, undeveloped and underutilized fishponds with the aim of restoring mangroves, which are vital in the defense against flooding and extreme weather events.

The order calls for rehabilitating the damaged parts of the mangrove forest through replanting, enrichment planting and assisted regeneration.

A DENR team will gather relevant data such as topographic maps, fishpond maps, and mangrove maps from the DENR-National Mapping Resources Information Authority and other agencies.

Mangroves are productive salt-tolerant ecosystems that play a critical role in coastal protection, carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, poverty alleviation and food security. They face a decline and are continually threatened due to human activities and natural disturbances.

Loyzaga also called for a collaborative effort and urged everyone to take an active role in the mangrove initiative and the safeguarding of the country’s ecosystems. She urged the public to take an active role in the rehabilitation and conservation of the country’s mangrove forests by helping validate on the ground the mangrove map created through satellite data.

The National Mangrove Map 2023, the satellite-derived map developed by the DENR and the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), will serve as the basis for making informed decisions and developing policies aimed at restoring and protecting Philippine mangroves.

Citing the need “to measure what we treasure” through the power of citizen science, Loyzaga called for a collaborative effort and urged everyone to take an active role in the mangrove initiative and the safeguarding of the country’s ecosystems. 

The initiative calls for the private and public sectors, including private individuals and organizations, to visit coastal barangays and verify the presence or absence of mangroves with the easy-to-use ODK Collect app available in the Google Play Store, or they can submit drone images of local mangroves to sdmad@philsa.gov.ph.

To get started, one can download the ODK Collect app, then scan the QR code from the e-manual (https://bit.ly/Mangrove2023Validation) for the step-by-step instructions.

The ODK Collect app provides easy-to-follow guidelines to collect data that will validate the presence or absence of mangroves in several spots within the same barangay, keeping a distance of 10 meters from the previous validation point.

Participants with drone equipment can opt for drone surveying and mapping over the ODK Collect app following the flight plan specified in the e-manual.

With over 600 sites and 30,000 validation points across the country as targets, the DENR aims to finalize the field validation of the mangrove map by June 2024.

Earlier, the DENR ordered an immediate assessment of abandoned, undeveloped and underutilized fishponds with the aim of restoring mangroves, which are vital in the defense against flooding and extreme weather events.

The order calls for rehabilitating the damaged parts of the mangrove forest through replanting, enrichment planting and assisted regeneration.

A DENR team will gather relevant data such as topographic maps, fishpond maps, and mangrove maps from the DENR-National Mapping Resources Information Authority and other agencies.

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