Thursday, April 7, 2016

ERDB bats for application of pest management in mangrove development projects

LEGAZPI CITY, April 6 (PNA) -– A government agency is encouraging all sectors involved in the rehabilitation and development of mangrove plantations in Bicol and other parts of the country to apply integrated pest management (IPM) to ensure best results.

In a statement reaching here Wednesday, the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said both private and government institutions engaged in such environmental activities should tie-up with the bureau in enhancing the sustainability of mangrove plantations through IPM.

“The bureau highlights its efforts of communicating the importance and know-how of practicing IPM to ensure the survival of mangroves planted in the Philippines,” ERDB Director Henry Adornado said in the statement.

The IPM principle involves the use of science-based techniques that will ensure that all seedlings planted will survive and grow, he said.

Cynthia Marquez, ERDB’s senior science research specialist on forest tree insect pest and diseases, explained that there are basic prerequisites for a sustainable mangrove planting which starts with the selection of quality planting materials.

Before planting, planters should first choose the right species of mangroves suited in a particular area, Marquez said, noting that Filipinos are very lucky that among the 70 species of mangroves in the world, 46 of these can be found in the country.

While bakawan babae (female mangrove) and bakawan lalaki (male mangrove) are usually preferred because they germinate easily, the ERDB warns that these species are also more vulnerable to infestation like barnacles which are crustaceans considered as the most destructive pests of mangroves.

There are specific species of mangroves that can be recommended for planting depending on soil type and salinity of water, Marquez said, as she identified bungalon, pagatpat, bakawan bato and bakawan lalaki as recommended for seaward sites.

At the landward portion where the soil is silty to silty clay, species like tangal and nipa are preferred, she added.

ERDB researcher Marcelina Pacho added that while there are numerous ways to control pest infestation, preventing infestation remains with the proper mangrove planting.

“Before undertaking any mangrove planting, it is important to gather baseline information on the area to be planted,” she said.

As part of the DENR’s Mangrove and Beach Forest Development Project (MBFDP) for 2015, ERDB has conducted baseline survey in Bicol and nine other regions of the country to gather data on the present conditions of the sites, including the flora and fauna, soil and water properties and socio-economic information.

The MDFDP, which is part of the National Greening Program (NGP), a flagship environmental agenda of the Aquino administration was last year given Php400 million in initial funding charged against the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program (RRP) under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Under this project, the national government—with the participation of concerned stakeholders from both local government units (LGUs) and the private sector or non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—are now developing mangroves and beach forests in areas affected by typhoons and other disasters that hit several regions in the country.

Under RRP, all rehabilitation efforts are grounded on ensuring the safety of communities against natural disasters in the future, thus, comprehensive preparation and prevention are key elements in the policy of “build back better (BBB)”, which includes the reforestation of mangrove and beach forests on local coastlines.

Among the priority sites of the project are areas in the Visayas and Bicol affected by typhoon Yolanda; communities in Zamboanga affected by siege and unrest; areas in Cebu and Bohol which were damaged by earthquakes; and areas in Mindanao badly hit by Typhoon Pablo.

The estimated land area of 27,400 hectares covered by the project is broken down to 22,000 hectares of mangrove forests and 5,400 hectares of beach forests and the activities involved are site preparation, nursery development, mangrove and beach forest planting, maintenance, and protection.

Under the FY 2015 GAA, the national government allotted a budget of Php21.7 billion to implement BBB strategy that integrates a preventive approach with efforts that focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk reduction management actions and interventions.

With Bicol getting as much as Php135 million for the rehabilitation under MBFDP of a total of over 7,100 hectares of beaches scattered through the regions six provinces, NGOs and other community-based organizations have been tapped into its implementation.

Areas of implementation insofar as Bicol is concerned involve 1,000 hectares in Camarines Norte; Camarines Sur, 1,100 hectares; Masbate, 2,130 hectares; Albay; 1,000 hectares; Catanduanes, 700 hectares; and Sorsogon, 314 hectares.

Adornado, meanwhile, said that while there has been no report of pest outbreak in mangrove areas, ERDB prescribes regular pest monitoring to regularly check for presence of any insect pest and diseases.

Common pests associated to mangroves include barnacles, oysters, borers and beetles.

To control pest outbreaks, ERDB recommends the use of environment-friendly techniques such as the introduction of natural enemies like wasps or use of mechanical devices in removing barnacles.

“If these mangroves planted grow and survive for years, we assure that our coastlines will have a strong defense against the destructive effects of severe typhoons, tsunamis and sea level rise,” the ERDB chief added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/EBP