Marine scientist supports creation of ‘coastal green belts’ to cushion impacts of typhoons

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KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / December 24) – Jurgenne Primavera, a renowned marine scientist from Mindanao, reaffirmed the need to legislate on the creation of “coastal green belts” across the Philippines following the devastation caused by Typhoon “Odette” (international name: “Raï”).

Parts of Siargao Island are covered with mangroves, like this “secret beach” in Doot on the border of Barangay Union in Dapa and Barangay Malinao in General Luna. MindaNews archive photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

“We need to move from disaster response to resilience, especially coastal resilience… So we need coastal green belts,” she posted on social media.

Primavera, who was born and raised in Agusan del Norte and was named by Time Magazine as “Heroes of the Environment” in 2008 for her work in mangrove conservation, said coastal green belts were needed in the country there. decades ago.

According to her, mangroves can go a long way in mitigating the impact of typhoons in coastal areas.

She cited a study by McIvor et al in 2012, which indicated that a 100-meter-wide green belt will absorb or reduce wave energy by up to 60%.

Primavera spoke of the need to establish coastal green belts following Odette’s wrath, which caused massive destruction on Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte Province and Dinagat Islands in Mindanao and in d other parts of the Visayas.

Odette first made landfall on December 16 on Siargao Island at 1:30 p.m. and 3:10 p.m. in the Dinagat Islands before hitting southern parts of Leyte, Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental in the Visayas and Palawan in Luzon, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Board (NDRRMC) reported.

The super typhoon killed at least 326 people and left a vast trail of destruction worth about 4 billion pesos to infrastructure and at least 2.03 billion pesos to agriculture, for a total of approximately 6.03 billion, according to NDRRMC data.

The signal for Typhoon No.4 was triggered over Dinagat Islands and Siargao and Bucas Grande Islands in Mindanao and southern Leyte and eastern Bohol in the Visayas around 11 a.m. on December 16. Three hours earlier, Odette recorded maximum sustained winds of 165 km / h near the center and gusts up to 205 km / h.

Primavera said a national coastal greenbelt science bill was tabled in Congress by Senator Bam Aquino in the Upper House in 2016 and Ako Bicol party list representative Rodel Batocabe. Aquino lost his candidacy for re-election in 2019 while Batocabe was shot in 2018.

Outgoing Senators Nancy Binay and Risa Hontiveros have also tabled a similar bill. To date, Congress has yet to pass the Greenbelt Bill, Primavera noted.

However, Primavera cited a 200-meter mangrove swamp in Leganes, Iloilo as “a shining example of political will and science-based governance”.

With technical contributions from Filipinos and other scientists at the Zoological Society of London, the city government restored an abandoned 9.5 hectare fish pond by applying assisted natural regeneration and achieved complete mangrove cover in just three years from 2009 to 2012.

Since then, hundreds if not thousands of students, locals, NGO, business, military, religious and other groups have done their part by planting a few piapi (Avicennia marina), the right species. , here and there, she mentioned.

In 2005, during a seminar for journalists in Iloilo where Primavera served as a resource person, she pointed out that mangroves act as protective shields that would cushion the impact of giant waves.

“Mangroves are a vital component of the marine environment”, she then underlined.

Primavera also noted that the deadly tsunami that hit parts of Asia in December 2004, which killed tens of thousands of people and destroyed billions of dollars in property, could have been mitigated had there been enough mangrove areas in devastated countries.

Besides serving as a “defense barrier,” mangroves have many other traditional uses, according to Primavera, recipient of a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation.

For example, the bark of Avicennia alba can serve as an astringent and its resinous secretion for birth control, she said.

Primavera said the leaves of Excoecaria agallocha can be used to treat epilepsy, its sap for ulcers and toothaches.

Other varieties of mangrove, she says, can be used to treat diarrhea and dysentery, to heal hair, as a food ingredient and as a skin cosmetic.

But on top of all that, Primavera said mangroves are important for keeping marine biodiversity in place. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)


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