“Rotatree”: Our Mangrove Planting Project - CT

The Rotary Club of Virac, R.I. District 3820, launched the “Rotatree”: Mangrove Planting Project last 02 August 2009 at Barangay Guinobatan, Bato, Catanduanes. The launching was marked by the planting of more than 1,000 mangrove propagules, made possible by an agreement between RC Virac President Atty. Al Aquino and Guinobatan barangay captain and SB member Gabriel T. Tejerero.

The planting was participated by FICELCO; Philippine Coast Guard (PCGA) 905th Squadron; Kabalibat Civicom 955 Catanduanes Chapter, and Master of Arts in Teaching Biology (MATBio) Students of the CSC Graduate School, as partner organizations. This activity is in line with the 6-Nationwide Projects of the ten (10) Rotary Districts, R.I., Philippines, this Rotary Year 2009-2010. RC Virac recognized the project as essential in the campaign against the ill-effects of Climate Change.

Why did we choose Barangay Guinobatan for this project? Guinobatan is one of the barangays along the chain of estuaries of the Cabugao Bay area, interlinked by Batalay, Bato and Antipolo Rivers. Figuring importantly in these river systems is Bato. Last April, this year, a tanguigue weighing about 16 kilograms was caught by farmers in the vicinity of the damaged bridge with about 2 kilograms of roe (egg) in its belly, about to be spawned. Again, 3 weeks ago a malaguimango estimated to weigh about 10 kilograms was almost got caught.

These are not mere coincidences. The river is a breeding ground for marine fish species from the Pacific. There is moral obligation to preserve these resources. We cannot exactly quantify the outcome of the undertaking, but we believe that the small steps that we do will contribute not only in promoting awareness but also draw interest from other people to join the campaign, and above all remind every individual of this noble duty - as champion of all creations.

We would like to take this opportunity to mention that other activities of the same nature are also going on. Last July 12, 2009 the PCGA 905th Squadron planted 500 mangrove propagules in San Andres, Bato, Catanduanes, adjacent to the Guinobatan site, participated by the SK Chairman and her members, DOST staff and MATbio Students CSC Graduate School, supervised by the Philippine Coast Guard, Virac.

Last July 14, 2009, another 2,000 mangrove propagules were also planted at Palnab del Sur, Virac by the partnership of LGU Virac, Barangay Council of Palnab del Sur and PCGA 905th Squadron. Another planting was also done on July 19, 2009 involving another 7,000 propagules at Magnesia. May this trend go on and we invite you guys to do the same and have your share in helping improve our coastal environment.

Mangrove is one of the important components of the aquatic ecosystem that performs many important functions. It serves to detoxify polluted waters, particularly the estuaries that almost always are the reservoir of ecologically degrading substances specifically phosphorous and nitrogen. Nitrogen in the structure of nitrates is formed from agricultural residues, while phosphorous is accumulated due to continuous erosions. The latter is quite stable, thus, every time erosion occurs associated with flooding, much more is accumulated into the estuaries. Mangroves nonetheless are capable of making use of these substances as fertilizer. This is why mangroves are among the aquatic tree species that are always luxuriant and healthy. Another good feature, the highly specialized root system of mangroves that strongly anchors the plant and holds the soil bed firmly in place, also serves as an important feeding ground and breeding place of fishes that make up the food chain. It is unfortunate though that because of its high combustibility (high BTU) mangrove gathering for firewood is rampant. More initiatives are therefore necessary, especially at the LGU level, to stop mangrove cutting.

Meanwhile, in planting mangroves under Catanduanes conditions, a higher percentage of survival is achieved if we drill a hole, using crow bar or wooden picket, and stick the propagule by about 50% to 70% percent (posterior end) at vertical or acute position, into the mud. This way we ensure a good hold for the propagule. Otherwise this will be easily uprooted by the tidal waters.

By Rotarians Jaime V. Cabrera and Edwin Tatel
August 19,2009
Source: Catanduanes Tribune

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