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ASEAN tackles mangrove management

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By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will try to work out a collaborative sustainable mangrove management in the region amid climate change in a Mangrove Congress September 4-8 in Manila.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB) will hold the 2nd ASEAN Congress on Mangrove Research and Development with the theme “Sustainable Management of Mangroves in the course of Climate Change.”

“Mangrove habitats represent both a vulnerable resource and a potential deterrent to the effects of climate change. Sea level rise poses a major threat to mangrove ecosystems as it induces erosion and weakening of root structures, increased salinity, and mangrove inundation,” the ERDB said.

Mangroves have been recognized to play an important role as a barrier against storm surges as what has been observed during Super typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

“Mangroves are also known to attenuate waves by as much as 75 percent through its vast underground root networks and high vegetation structural complexity,” according to Anna McIvor, team leader of the study titled “Storm Surge Reduction by Mangroves.”

ERDB Director Henry Adornado said Congress will serve as an avenue for the sharing of best practices on mangrove conservation and plantation management among ASEAN countries.

“We will strengthen collaboration and linkages among environment researchers who are now playing a crucial role in this big task of managing the coastal resources and climate change,” Adornado said.

Mangrove experts, government officials, scientists, and academicians who have done research in the ASEAN region will discuss mangrove ecology, functions, and fisheries; mangrove restoration and rehabilitation; climate change adaptation and mitigation; and valuation and socio-economic studies.

According to ERDB, 563 million people in Southeast Asia are concentrated along 173,251 kilometers of coastlines, leaving them exposed to increasing risks, including coastal erosion due to climate change and sea level rise.

Mangroves are known to protect communities for as long as they have an extent of one kilometer.

Based on a study titled “Saved by the Mangroves:  A Philippine town dodges Haiyan’s storm surge,” General MacArthur town in Eastern Samar had only less than 100 people that died from Yolanda due to the mangroves in the area which served as barrier against storm surge.

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