Sunday, April 9, 2017

Mangrove Planting: the Making of a Mangrove Forest on the Shore of Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro

The rise in human population and human activities create problems that have a far reaching effect on the environment. The need for material resources resulted to the destruction of forests and erosion of mountains and coastal areas. These problems are aggravated by the phenomenon called climate change where weather pattern is disrupted and people experience natural calamities such as flash floods, typhoons and drought. People have tried to mitigate the affect of these events by reforesting mountains, planting trees in urban and rural communities, regulating the extraction of mineral resources and implementing proper waste and garbage disposal among other activities. In this article I will focus my discussion on the activities that people or groups are doing specifically the planting of mangroves to develop a forest of trees in the coastal village of Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro City.

A shrub or a small tree, mangrove grows on the swampy part of the sea shore that is inundated with the runoff of salt and fresh water from the river or creeks during high tide. It has oval leaf and roots that project from the sand or mud. Mangrove can survive in a highly saline environment because of its ability to filter out salt water. It propagates itself through its fruit called propagules which when mature fall into the sand or mud to grow into a new plant.

Dense mangrove vegetation makes a forest that sustains an ecosystem where different animals can live interdependently with one another for their survival. On the forest floor, the rising water at high tide and the residual water at low tide serve as sanctuaries and breeding, spawning and hatching ground for small species of fish, a situation which can also provide humans with foods. The sandy and muddy ground under the trees is a habitat for crabs, oysters, shells, algae and other aquatic or amphibious creatures. The forest also hosts different insects that are attracted to the tree flowers for their food and reproduction. The availability of foods such as fish, insects, crabs and worms make the forest an abode or hunting ground for some species of migratory or resident birds.

Coastal erosion can be prevented with a forest of mangrove on the shore because tree roots keep the sand and the mud from being washed away into the sea. Over time, without the trees, the sea will gradually eat up portions of the edges of the shore thus pushing coastal residents farther inland. Mangrove forest can serve as the buffer between marine and terrestrial communities thereby giving protection to people living in coastal areas during catastrophic events such as typhoons, storm surges and tsunamis.                                                              
In Cagayan de Oro, a tract of the swampy shore in the village of Bonbon is devoted to the growing and propagation of mangrove to turn the area into a mangrove forest. The shore is located at the estuary of Cagayan de Oro River where the salt water of Macajalar Bay meets the fresh water of the river. A mangrove forest there can help stave off the destructive effects of natural calamities such as typhoons. On 2011, the city experienced its worst natural disaster in history when thousands of its residents who lived along the river banks were killed when they were swept away by the heavy volume of water and sediments that overflowed from the river during the onslaught of Typhoon Sendong.  

With coordination from the City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (CLENRO) people from different walks of life, in their own small way, have been coming to the place to contribute their fair share of effort in greening the shore with mangroves. If a large percentage of what they planted will survive, then the shore will turn into a large mangrove forest in the future. The people or groups include members of the Armed Forces and the police, business establishments, students from different schools and civic organizations such as the Lion’s Club.