The Climate Change Commission, in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB), together with the Environment and Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) held the two-day Symposium on Mangroves for Climate-Adaptive and Resilient Communities from December 19-20, 2016 at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City.

This climate change event involved around 200 participants which consist of representatives from the local government units, civil societies, People’s Organization, private entities, government offices, mangrove experts and the academe, mostly from the Visayan Region.

Climate Change Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman, in his welcome remarks, said that the knowledge-sharing event aims to intensify all efforts related to the implementation of various mangrove programs, specifically in Regions 6, 7, 8 and the Negros Islands Region. He also assured that there will be more convergence initiatives between CCC and the DENR to jointly uphold and protect the integrity of the Philippine ecosystems.

Meanwhile, in his Keynote Address, DENR Undersecretary Isabelo Montejo reminisced the disparaging experience brought about by Typhoon Yolanda on November 8, 2013 which affected the lives of 9.7 million people in Central and Eastern Visayas, and other parts of the country. Montejo pointed out the lack of natural barriers such as mangroves which could have lessened the effects of storm surges along the coastal communities during that natural disaster. Thus, Montejo stressed the importance of continuously advocating and campaigning for the crucial role of mangroves in the Philippines.

Significant mangrove-related topics that were discussed on Day 1 of the Symposium, are as follows: Philippines’ climate change outlook and update, Philippine mangrove ecosystem, carbon sequestration potential of mangroves, vulnerability of Philippine mangroves, and most importantly, social mobilization for community based mangrove rehabilitation. There were also presentations that shared best practices and experiences in contracting private organizations, selecting sites, and lastly, planting, establishing, maintaining, and protecting of mangroves in Region 7.

For Day 2 of the Symposium, PENRO-Aklan will show the status of the Bakhawan Eco-park and Research Center, a 220-hectare of reforested mangrove in Kalibo, Aklan. Also, ERDB Director Henry A. Adornado together with Dr. Carmelita Villamor will present the highlights of DENR’s Mangrove and Beach Forest Development Project (MBDFP) in the Philippines.

Participants will be grouped in simultaneous workshops to formulate a science-based action plan for a more cohesive and systematic mangrove planting in the Visayas Region.

CCC and DENR will hold two similar symposia in 2017, in Mindanao and in Luzon, to fully ensure efficient and effective mangrove planting all over the Philippines. Adreana S. Remo