Mangroves in the Philippines
There are 54 species of true mangroves (34 major and 20 minor) worldwide and 60 mangrove associates (Tomlinson, 1996).
The Philippines has around 47 ‘true mangrove’ and associated species belonging to 26 families. True mangrove species are those that strictly grow in the mangrove environment while associated species may thrive on other habitat types such as beach forest and lowland areas (Melana and Gonzales, 1996).
Satellite image analysis indicate that currently Mindanao has the most mangrove areas in the country (29% of the country’s total) while Luzon and Mindoro have the least. Old-growth mangrove forest are mainly found in Mindanao (4,582 hectares) and Palawan (5,317 hectares) (World Bank, 2005).
Among the mangrove sites with high diversity are the island province of Bohol with 26 species, Pagbilao Bay in Quezon Province with 24 species, Aurora Province with 23 species, Ibajay in Aklan province with 22 species, Puerto Galera Mindoro and San Remegio in Cebu with 18 species (Primavera, 2000).
Mangrove-dependent fauna are equally diverse – studies have recorded as much as 128 fish species, 56 species of birds and 9 species of shrimps (Primavera, 2000)
Many villages are named after mangroves. The frequent usage of these common names reflects the usefulness/economic importance of mangroves in the daily lives of the people. The City of Manila is named after maynilad – which literally means “there is nilad’, a mangrove scientifically known as Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea, which lined the shores of Manila Bay and the banks of the Pasig River (Gruezo, 1999).
Mangroves in Trouble
Forested mangrove are in the Philippines has decreased from an estimate coverage of 450,000 ha in 1918 to less than 120,000 ha in the late 1990’s. The most rapid decrease in mangrove coverage occurred during the 1960’s and 1970’s when national policies encouraged the expansion of aquaculture. Today, fishponds cover about 289,000 ha, most of which were formerly mangroves. For the period 1967 – 1968, the average rate of decline was about 8,000ha annually (DENR, 2001).
Mangrove stands remaining in the country are mostly found in the southern islands of Mindanao and the eastern islands of Palawan. Less than 5 percent of existing trees are in old or primary growth forest and found mostly in Palawan. Most mangrove forests in Luzon and Visayas islands are secondary growth or in plantations. Sadly, mangrove forests in the Philippines are of much lower quality now and cover less than one-third of their original range.
Despite a 1982 government ban on further mangrove conversion to fishponds, mangrove areas continued to decline by about 3,700 ha annually, roughly matching the increase in fishponds areas. Production of firewood, charcoal, and building materials often was the initial incentive to cut trees, followed later by conversion to fishpond. The low annual rent of Fishpond Lease Agreements (FLAs)-around US2$/ha/yr has encourage fishpond conversion since they carry no penalties for low production. They also pay very little back to the government or local community for lost benefits (Primavera, 2005).
Studies and experience now show that a mangrove forest can support more than up to 1 ton per hectare per year of natural fish production. Thus, when many fishponds were abandoned in the late 1980’s because of disease outbreaks and declining economic returns, the country found itself losing not only the production of fishponds but also natural fishery production from abandoned mangrove areas.
Urbanization has also contributed to the denudation of mangrove forests, with intrusion of human settlements and conversion of mangrove areas reclamation, ports and coastal tourism development. While the rate of loss has slowed and reforestation programs have been underway for the past decade to rehabilitate mangrove areas, coastal development in the Philippines continues to be aggressive, resulting in a wide variety of conflicting uses – industry, construction, dump sites, boat landings, tourism and recreation.
Shore It Up’s Commitment to Rescue, Restore, Revive the Mangroves
The Mangrove Protection/ Propagation & Information Center (M.P.I.C.) is a legacy of Metro Pacific Investments Foundation, through Shore It Up and its LGU partner, to the Filipino people.
This facility shall serve as the center for the protection and propagation of mangrove trees in coastal estuaries, including the rehabilitation of degraded mangroves in the coastal communities of the country, while providing information for locals, tourists and guests on the value and benefits of mangroves in our ecosystem.
2014 – Del Carmen, Siargao Islands
MANGROVE PROTECTION & INFORMATION CENTER
2015- Alaminos City, Pangasinan
MANGROVE PROPAGATION & INFORMATION CENTER
2016 – Panglao, Bohol
MANGROVE PROPAGATION & INFORMATION CENTER