Quezon’s 2 in 1: 2 Million Mangroves in One Day
Mangroves are home to varied species of fishes, crustaceans and mollusks. For coastal communities, mangrove forests are crucial to maintaining a healthy marine population. The unique roots trap and hold sediments and siltation from the uplands, thus promoting water quality and growth of corals and sea grasses. They also protect the shoreline from soil erosion. A wall of mangrove also provides defense against incoming waves and storm surges.
In the Philippines, there has been a significant decline in mangrove forest cover that if the post-1980 trend continues, it is expected that there will be less than 100,000 hectares by the year 2030. Quezon Province, which has the third longest coastline in the country, has not been spared by the decline. Of the 1,242 barangays in the province, 403 or 25% are coastal barangays, with 659,462 residents or 33% of the total provincial population.
To restore its mangroves, the Provincial LGU implemented its “2 in 1 program,” involving a massive and record-breaking activity to plant two million mangrove propagules in under 24 hours. This program aimed to restore, protect, and manage marine resources. The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PG-ENRO) personnel surveyed and mapped the entire length of Quezon’s 1,034-kilometer coastline to designate suitable planting beds for the propagules,as well as to work out the number of propagules needed for each site. It then mobilized the communities for the replanting. It held project orientations for the participants on their role in the actual planting, and to impress upon them the importance of maintaining and monitoring the mangroves. Mobilization was done in close coordination with the mayors and municipal ENROs. Various organizations and agencies were invited, including DepEd, PNP, AFP, NGOs and private organizations. The province’s indigenous population was also tapped. The latter, in fact would prove crucial in the implementation of all phases of the program.
On June 30, 2012, a total of 39,002 residents of the province from all walks of life, representing 196 barangays, planted 2,766,342 mangrove propagules in 221 hectares along the Lamon, Tayabas and Ragay coastlines. Of the total planted, 1,775,353 of the propagules made it to their second year, resulting in a survival rate of 61%, which is way above those of previous mangrove-planting programs elsewhere in the country. (The majority of mangrove-planting programs in the Philippines result in a disappointing survival rate of between 10-20% due to lack of monitoring and maintenance.) Replenishment of another 164,768 brought the total number of surviving mangroves to 1,940,139, according to the PG-ENRO.
PG-ENRO in coordination with designated local partners monitored the growth and survival of the propagules, replacing dead seedlings to maintain the targeted number of surviving mangroves. It helped organize the Luntiang Katipuneros--1,980 volunteers, mostly fishermen and farmers--and tasked them to monitor the growth of newly planted mangroves along the coastline and to replenish those that did not survive.
Prior to the implementation of the 2 in 1 program, crab harvest and fish catch was very minimal. Within two years, fishermen began to enjoy gathering crabs, crablets, shrimp and other crustaceans, as well as fish. Coral reef conditions The “2 in 1 program” involved a massive and record-breaking activity to plant two million mangrove seedlings in under 24 hours. also improved. Four barangays reported a revival in the previously extinct population of shellfish and crabs. Long-time residents testified that for the first time in many years, there has been a resurgence of sardines and crabs in the bay, along with mussels, oysters and shells. Reduction in siltation is also evident, based on the clearer coastal waters.
Community involvement is key to the success of Quezon’s 2 in 1 program. Community ownership of the program ensured that the mangroves will be continuously protected. And unlike most mangrove rehabilitation and greening projects, the maintenance and survival of the mangroves is not an afterthought, but an integral part of the 2 in 1 program. Six barangays have even passed resolutions aimed at protecting the mangroves in their respective vicinities.
The Provincial Government also formally declared June 30 as Mangrove Day, through Resolution No. 2012-1386. This commemoration is part of the present administration’s goal to institutionalize the program and conduct mangrove planting on a regular basis. This also ensures program continuity beyond the present administration.