Mangroves save islands in Negros
by: FFE PH News Staff
The islets of Molocaboc in Sagay, Negros Occidental were directly on the path of typhoon Yolanda when the storm hit the country on 8 November. But unlike other places hit by the typhoon, the residents of the islets had a natural barrier that protected them from the storm surge.
Molocaboc Daku Integrated School teacher Milane Desamparado said ‘The mangroves are still standing, but there are circles in the middle where the branches of the trees had been sheared … They helped save us from the fury of Yolanda.’
School principal Roger Rochar supported the statement, saying ‘I was in the house when [Yolanda struck] so I did not see the action in the mangrove area. But by the looks of it, places where there are no mangroves were the ones badly hit.’
Principal Jose Dalisay of the Matabas Elementary School said that the mangroves on one side their island protected the land from the surge. ‘I discovered that on the other side [where there were no] mangroves, the solid stone was destroyed by the big waves… We attempted to plant mangroves in that area, but failed due to the waves. Mangroves for us are important to protect the entire island of Matabas.’
Molocaboc Daku, Molocaboc Diut and Matabas form part of the Molocaboc island chain and are under the 32,000 hectare Sagay Marine Reserve where mangrove reforestation and strict marine conservation are in force.
Molocaboc registered no casualties after the storm hit. Village chief Antonio Pasaylo said the storm surges destroyed some fishing boats and evacuation saved the lives of the residents. But the mangroves helped shield the locals from the typhoon’s wrath.
Environment secretary Ramon Paje recognised the value of mangroves as a green wall that protects against storm surges. In a statement made on Wednesday, he said that mangroves should not be destroyed because of the protection they give to coastlines.
He added that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is also planning a Php347m project that will plant 19 million mangrove and beach-forest seedlings on 1,900 hectares of coastline.
The secretary revealed that the areas hit by the typhoon once had mangrove swamps: ‘Had the mangroves in Leyte and Eastern Samar provinces not been decimated, the storm surge in those areas would have been dissipated by 70–80%.
‘The surge can destroy the leaves, but it cannot uproot the mangroves because they are so deeply rooted and strong.’