The loss of mangroves affects not only the associated organisms but also the communities that rely on them for food, livelihood, and protection. Preserving Bohol’s mangrove forests is essential to ensuring the island’s long-term sustainability and prosperity.
The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau – Coastal Resources and Ecotourism Research, Development and Extension Center (ERDB-CRERDEC) presented their diagnosis of the mangrove mortality in Alburquerque-Loay-Loboc Protected Landscape and Seascape (ALLPLS) on February 17, 2023, during the 1st Quarter meeting of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) held in Tagbilaran City. Said presentation was in response to the invitation from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) Bohol. In November 2022, the said DENR field office requested technical assistance from ERDB-CRERDEC to investigate the mangrove die-off in Barangay Sta. Felomina, Alburquerque, Bohol.
Forester Anselmo M. Aurestila of ERDB-CRERDEC reported that sand accretion and hypoxia or suffocation caused by stagnant, polluted water caused the mangrove mortalities. Existing structures such as riprap or seawall-like pathways, multipurpose buildings, and kiosks, may impede the movement of sediments during the southwest and northeast monsoons. Over time, sand accretion buried the pneumatophores and resulted in root smothering. In another site, the build-up of the sand created a tide pool, permanently submerging the mangrove pneumatophores. The disposal of domestic wastes (solid and liquid) aggravates the situation. This resulted in mangrove roots constantly submerged in a tide pool filled with wastewater, which could lead to inundation stress.
Recommendations drawn from the said investigation include strengthening the protection of the mangrove area from informal settlers, improving the waste disposal systems consisting of sewage and solid wastes, and enforcing the easement zone law even more strictly. Furthermore, structures that may interfere with the movement of sand should be removed or replaced with environment-friendly structures. Detailed studies should also be carried out to analyze sediment movement/sand accretion through remote sensing technologies and GIS applications.
Punong Barangay Ranulfo Bitoy of Sta. Felomina, Alburquerque, along with officials from DENR PENRO Bohol and ALLPLS PAMB Members, expressed their appreciation for the investigation’s results. Hon. Ranulfo Bitoy urged the PAMB to take immediate action to mitigate the mangrove degradation in the area.
Presiding Officer Punong Barangay Primo P. Espiritu of Poblacion Ubos, Loay, Bohol, also encouraged the board to inform and disseminate information about the causes of mangrove mortality, as presented in the diagnostic report.
The DENR-PENRO Bohol and ERDB-CRERDEC sincerely hope that the recommendations presented will be promptly implemented to safeguard the existing mangrove vegetation and prevent further mangrove mortalities in Alburquerque. AM Aurestila, CRERDEC