Students heed urgent call to plant mangroves

By Marie Katherine Villalon

Do you know that 300 mangroves per 0.01 hectare with a depth of 100 meters can reduce a tsunami’s destruction by 90 percent?

That is according to a study by Hirashi and Harada in 2003.

Mangroves also protect people and animals from storms and floods.  Their leaves and roots provide food for plankton, fish and other marine life.
UPV Green Iskul President Kara Kirsten Pareja Montes and i-STAND President Kate Tacadao.

 Mangroves also store carbon through the accumulation of sediment deposits.

However, the number of our mangroves is gradually declining due to climate change, unmindful tourism developments and wood extraction among others.
Such decline poses a risk to living organisms, including man.

To arrest this, students from different high school and colleges of Iloilo City planted 200 mangrove plants in Brgy. Hinactacan, La Paz last March 5, 2014.
The organizers are the UPV Green Iskul and its mother organization, I-stand (Iloilo Students Alliance for Nature and Development), an alliance of 20 student organizations that promote environmental awareness in schools and communities.

Kate Tacadao, president of i-STAND, admitted that planting mangroves was not an easy task. She said they had to use bamboo sticks to push the plants into the ground. Then, they tied these plants into the sticks. “Then, we will wait for years for them to grow,” she said.

But, she said the waiting, for sure is worth it. “You wait and when the time comes, you will not be the only one who will be rewarded.”

“Despite the scorching heat of the sun, the undeniable volume of the mud, the numerous debris scattered everywhere and the possible crawlies with us, we, the planters knew there is a greater reward from the environment. Now, who wouldn’t want to do a job like that?” she said.

Students plant mangroves at Brgy. Hinactacan, La Paz, Iloilo City.

 Kara Montes, president of UPV Green Iskul said the activity was a big step in saving the world.

“If there’s one thing that I’ve learned after the mangrove planting, that is, doing simple things can actually be a big step in saving the world. Yes, we planted only 200 mangrove seedlings and they might be little in quantity, but I believe that the involvement of each participant is something that they will carry with them every day, such as influencing everyone to be aware of the current situation and make a move.”

For most of the volunteers, it was their first time to plant mangroves.
“It was my first time to actually plant mangroves and the experience was overwhelming and fun to say the very least. Even though I had half of my legs buried in mud, I felt so happy because I know that years from now, another generation will be able to live in a safer environment because of the mangroves we planted. I learned that no act is small enough to have an impact in our environment. Every deed counts and we start by simply saying ‘yes’ to opportunities to help Mother Earth,” said Karla Phloem Figarola, BS Accountancy III student of UPV and a member of UPV Green Iskul.

This year, i-STAND is celebrating its 10th anniversary. According to Hermz Gacho, i-STAND coordinator, they will be launching more activities geared towards sustaining the environment.

Gacho is also a volunteer of MISSION, a supporter of the mangrove planting activity. It is a global network of volunteers that push for sustainable actions. MISSION stands for Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies through Initiatives, Organizing and Networking.

MISSION’S collaboration is part of its Greening Program under Liwanag 2014 | Disaster:From Chaos to Rebirth on March 27 to 29, 2014 at the Diversion 21 Hotel, Iloilo City. It is a national conference of government, business and civil society that aims to create a solutions ecosystem that will address the risks brought about by climate change./

i-STAND. Gathering students to set an example for the next generation.
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