In Ilocos Norte, villagers make way for a mangrove plantation

PASUQUIN, Ilocos Norte — A 400-hectare barren area in a coastal village of Davila will soon be filled with mangroves or bakawan to protect marine lives and safeguard its residents from natural disasters.

Over the years, naturally-grown mangrove forests based on a report of Haribon Foundation has been declining. Of the estimated 500,000 hectares mangrove forests in the country, only a hundred hectares remain with barely 5 percent considered as primary or old-growth forest.

In Davila, Pasuquin town, its local government unit along with other partner government agencies, peoples organizations, non-government organizations, academe and the church are joining hands to rehabilitate its remaining mangrove forests here.

Russel Ramos and his 8-year-old son John Patrick recently participated in a mangrove tree planting activity here saying, “it’s fun doing it for a cause.”

Led by representatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, multi-sectoral groups also take turns at the mangrove site to help plant more propagules, inspiring more villagers to do their part.

In fact, a people’s organization was formed in Davila village mostly composed of indigent families where they get some livelihood assistance by taking care of the mangrove rehabilitation project here.

Acting as buffer zone between the land and the sea, residents here are taught of the vital importance of mangroves as a nature’s shield against cyclones, breeding and nursery grounds for a variety of marine lives, a water purifier and a potential source for recreation and tourism once these are fully-grown and properly managed.

So far, around 23 hectares of new mangrove plantation have been established in various coastal municipalities in Ilocos Norte but the one in Davila is the biggest with over 200 hectares being rehabilitated. Leilani Adriano/PNA/