Monday, January 24, 2011

Promoting Tourism in Ajuy through Community-Based Mangrove Rehabilitation Project in Barangay Pedada

Worldwide, more than 70 species of mangroves exist. Around 35-40 species are found in the Philippines; and 29 of it are found in Barangay Pedada in Ajuy, Iloilo. Barangay Pedada is a small and rich community of mangrove forest with an estimated 42.5 hectares contributing to Ajuy’s overall health and of Iloilo’s northern coastal zone.

The conservation and rehabilitation effort of Ajuy’s wetlands is a strategic component to their over-all development thrust. Part of a greater move to rehabilitate their coastline is the conduct of information campaigns on the importance of the mangrove forests, as well as the other ecosystems to coastal communities. The on-going Community-Based Mangrove Rehabilitation Project in Barangay Pedada has been a success in local management of mangrove forests, as reflected through continued replanting with the community taking care of the natural resources and environment in the area.

The local government of Ajuy through its very dynamic and tourism-oriented municipal mayor, Hon. Juan R. Alvarez in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London and the DENR, started the Community-Based Mangrove Rehabilitation Project (CBMRP) aiming to study and recreate the original mangrove community in the area. Barangay Pedada’s local conservation group, the BPFA or Barangay Pedada Fisherfolks Association headed by Mr. Rodney Barber together with Baragay Captain Alberto Babiera depended on other institutions through networking for exchange and transaction in order to obtain support in rehabilitating their natural resources. The conservation team’s headquarters is located within the local village. The local community appreciated the idea of working together with the conservation team. For this reason, the group continues the mangrove rehabilitation effort and to provide support to the community by building capacity and awareness.

University of San Agustin junior tourism student planting mangrove seedlings

Barangay Pedada is used as a demonstration site on community participatory project for mangrove conservation in order to rehabilitate degraded mangrove areas in order to bring back ecological benefits such as the improvement of the town’s shoreline stabilization, reduce erosion, enhance coastal fisheries; and promote general public awareness on importance of mangroves but specifically for local community of Ajuy;

junior tourism students of the University of San Agustin

Many programs can increase the community’s income in relation to mangroves which includes Ecotourism and Agro-forestry. For ecotourism there is the opportunity to provide guest houses, home stays, and handicrafts for visitors. The mangrove forest in Barangay Pedada, Ajuy is identified as possible boardwalks for educational mangrove tours due to the presence of old-growth mangroves that will provide the people in the community and its visitors with knowledge and information that can be part of an eco tourism program. It will train local guides on mangrove ecology and restoration. It is our hope that this project be used in other parts of Iloilo, to increase the benefits for poor people.

The Community-Based Mangrove Rehabilitation Project is continuing program that develops restoration activities in order to make progress toward the rehabilitation process of the area. It is envisioned that this project can help to establish a good example of community-based mangrove rehabilitation, which can be duplicated in other mangrove areas in Iloilo.

Mangrove forests, along with sea grass beds, estuaries and coral reefs, form the coastal ecosystem is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Mangroves typically grow along the water's edge and appear to be standing or walking on the surface of the water. They flourish in salty environments because they are able to obtain fresh water from saltwater. Some secrete excess salt through its leaves and others block absorption of salt at their roots. Mangrove roots act not only as physical traps but offer attachment surfaces for various marine organisms. Mangroves provide protected nursery areas for fishes, crustaceans, and shellfish. They also provide food for a multitude of marine species. Mangrove forests protect uplands from storm winds, waves, and floods. Mangroves can help prevent erosion by stabilizing shorelines with their specialized root systems. Mangroves also filter water and maintain water quality and clarity. Our important recreational and commercial fisheries will drastically decline without healthy mangrove forests. People living along the coastal areas benefit many ways from mangroves. It is true that mangroves can be naturally damaged and destroyed, but there is no doubt that human impact has been most severe.

Turismo Agustino President in action

The University of San Agustin through its Turismo Agustino, tourism department of the College of Arts and Sciences will be adopting a 2-hectare area for its on-going mangrove rehabilitation project. The group will endeavor to rehabilitate and restore the mangrove forest through plantation of seeds and seedlings and will conduct and strengthen its partnership with the local village in promoting the conservation of our wetlands.

To get involved with the project, please contact the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism (033) 3384910 to visit us at the 2nd floor, Old Provincial Capitol, Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City.

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