DENR’s white sand budget could reforest 13, 000 hectares of mangroves — PAMALAKAYA

DENR’s white sand budget could reforest 13, 000 hectares of mangroves — PAMALAKAYA

Manila, Philippines — At least 13, 000 hectares of mangrove forests that are vital to Manila Bay’s marine ecosystem and biodiversity could be planted using the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) budget for “beach nourishment” project worth P389 million, according to a group of small fisherfolks.

According to a study by Primevera and Esteban (2008), mangrove planting costs at least $607.7 or P28, 881.6 per hectare, which means that the DENR’s P389 for Manila Bay beautification through “white sand” filling could plant a total of 13, 469 hectares of mangrove forests.

The fisherfolk group earlier condemned the filling of “white sand” as “artificial rehabilitation, focusing on aesthetics over genuine rehabilitation needs”.

PAMALAKAYA said that the P389 million budget was more than enough to install mangrove forests that will serve as fish sanctuary, pollution filter, and coastal communities protection.

“Compared to the baloney ‘white sand’ project along the 500-meter baywalk, mangroves serve many important purposes to marine environment and coastal communities. Its amenities include community defense against strong waves, storm surges, flood regulation, sediment trapping, marine wildlife habitat and nurseries,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

“The government’s failure to genuinely rehabilitate the degrading Manila Bay is being white washed by the dumping of white sand. Instead of a transformative and sustainable environmental intervention, the DENR is more invested in cosmetic surgery,” added Hicap.

The fisherfolk group claimed that thousands of hectares of mangroves were destroyed before to give way for reclamation projects inteded for commercial and industrial hubs. From decades ago until 1995, the group further noted, mangrove areas in Manila Bay used to cover 54, 000 hectares but they have significantly shrunk to 2,000 hectares and at present, only less-than-a-500-hectare is left.

PAMALAKAYA also warned that the dolomite boulders, the synethetic materials being filled along the baywalk, could pose harm to the marine environment and humans, as it contains heavy metals such as aluminum, lead, and mercury, that could contribute to the pollution and acidity of Manila Bay.

Lastly, the progressive fishers group said that several reclamation projects in Manila Bay, particularly in the coastal waters of Bacoor City in Cavite, Navotas City, and Bulakan in Bulacan, have been given green light by the DENR, the lead agency of the government’s Manila Bay rehabilitation program.

Mangrove tree felled by dump-filling of a fishpond in Bacoor City, Cavite.
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