Mangroves keep coastal communities safer
The devastation of Typhoon Yolanda to lives and properties in affected areas highlighted the need for appropriate environmental strategies that will mitigate the impact of disasters to communities.
The super typhoon is just the latest in a string of disasters that were made worse by changing global weather patterns.
Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), a staunch advocate for disaster preparedness and environment conservation, has committed to implement measures that will help reduce the effects of climate change. But for these measures to be effective, they must suit the geographical needs of the community at risk.
For instance, coastal communities in the Visayas that were hard-hit by Yolanda will be prioritized for mangrove planting this year.
Mangroves serve as a natural protective barrier for storm surges, tidal waves and coastal floodings. The Zoological Society of London also cited that mangroves play an important role in climate stabilization, and even has a potential for carbon storage and sequestration that could be greater than that of tropical forests.
“We need to prepare for the next disaster and one way of doing this is by using environment strategies to help mitigate the impact of climate change. Moving forward, our strategy will be to come up with interventions that are appropriate for the community at risk during disasters,” said Ramon R. Isberto, head of Smart Public Affairs.
Reforestation through mangrove rehabilitation will be focused in areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda. The powerful storm surge and strong winds brought by the super typhoon wreaked havoc in many cities and towns across Eastern Visayas, especially the low-lying and coastal areas.
“Coastal communities have said that existing mangrove plantations acted as natural barriers during storm surges. If mangroves were present in all of our coastal communities, the impact of the devastation could have been far lesser than it actually was,” said Darwin Flores, Department Head for Community Partnerships at Smart.
So far, the telco has already identified Iloilo, Capiz and Tacloban as priority areas for mangrove propagation. These are the same areas that were devastated by Yolanda. Bohol, which bore the brunt of the 6.7-magnitude earthquake, has also been chosen as a priority site for mangrove planting.
While specific sites are yet being determined, a team from Public Affairs is already in touch with the respective local government units (LGUs) as well as institutional partners to help in implementing this initiative by middle of this year.
“For coastal communities, planting mangroves is the way to go and/or beach forests as may be appropriate. At the same time, we will continue to sustain our efforts to reforest and rehabilitate the Marikina Watershed and other critical watersheds in the country,” said Isberto.
Mangrove and beach forest nursery establishment, planting as well as promotion of eco-tourism will also be undertaken initially in Leyte, Capiz and Iloilo.
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