|Coastal, Marine and Island Biodiversity: Mangroves|
Earlier literatures have reported that mangrove areas are found in Palawan, Aurora, Isabela and Quezon in Luzon, Aklan, Samar provinces in the Visayas, and Zamboanga, Surigao and Sulu provinces in Mindanao, with the largest remaining mangroves areas located in Mindanao (112,745 has), Samar (65,119 has), Palawan (37,432) and Luzon (16,769 has).
There has been significant decline in mangrove forest cover from 450,000 hectares in 1918 to about 120,000 hectares in 1995 and if the post-1980 trend continues, it is expected that there will be less than 100,000 hectares by the year 2030 (PEM 2005 citing Brown and Fischer, 1918; DENR 1988,1998; White and de Leon, 2004). Recent data on extent of mangrove cover gathered from various sources need to be reconciled. Figure 16 shows that the NAMRIA and FMB interpretation of the 2002 satellite images showed a total area of 248,813 hectares, subject to ground validation (PEM 2005). The Forestry Statistics 2007 citing 2003 data reported a total mangrove area of 247,362 hectares. Recent ground validation conducted by the DENR showed a total of 210,497.62 hectares as of 2008. This validated data includes information from 804 coastal cities/municipalities and 23,492 barangays covering a coastal area of 34,014 sq km.
Validation is still to be completed in Regions NCR, IV-B, V, VIII, IX, and CARAGA, particularly in isolated areas, and yet to be conducted in the ARMM. Based on this data, the largest mangrove areas are found in Regions IV-B, Region VIII, CARAGA and Region VII. Palawan (52, 693 hectares) in Region IV-B appears to have the largest mangrove area, followed by Northern Samar (9, 961.69) in Region VIII, Surigao del Sur (16,865.14) in Region XIII, and Bohol (14,156.37) in Region VII (DENR-PAWB-CMMO, 2008). Conservation priority areas for mangroves have been identified, namely: Buguey, Cagayan; Divilacan, Isabela; Lingayen Gulf, Pangasinan; Pagbilao Bay, Quezon; Bongsalay; Western Samar; Siargao-Dinagat Islands; Palawan; Sarangani Bay; Puerto Galera Bay; Cablao Bay; Southern Leyte; Panguil Bay; and, Sta. Cruz, Basilan (Ong et al, 2002).
The greatest threat to mangrove forests is conversion to agriculture, aquaculture, saltponds, human settlements and coastal development. Mangrove species are also widely used for fuel, charcoal and manufacture of poles and piles. Despite the ban imposed by the government on mangrove conversion and cutting, mangroves continue to be cleared (BFAR-NFRDI-PAWB, 2005).
There are current efforts to expand the coverage and strengthen protection of mangrove areas in the country. The DENR thrusts in the MTPDP 2004-2010 included protecting and replanting of about 10,500 hectares of mangrove. Mangrove reforestation and afforestation activities are ongoing in several areas such as in Palawan, Sulu and Central Visayas, including Negros, Bohol and Cebu.
In Palawan, the Palawan Council on Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) oversees the maintenance of the 20-hectare Isugod Mangrove Reforestation Project fully planted with mangrove propagules under the Development Bank of the Philippines Forest Project. The communities, as direct stakeholders in the area, were also provided with training. In Maruyugon, Puerto Princesa, a community-based Nipa Plantation Project has been launched in coordination with local officials, students and the community (PCSDS, 2007).