TACLOBAN CITY, Feb. 15 –- Villagers in a typhoon-hit community in this city are eyeing to develop tourism activities through the mangrove reforestation project.
Paraiso village chairman Jan Michael de Veyra of coastal San Jose district said that tourism development is one of their long term plans for the new project.
Once full grown, they will construct a pathway in the mangrove forest for students who will visit the place for educational trips.
They will also include mudcrab production as livelihood support for local fishers.
“We already made an eco-tourism plan and presented it to possible partners for funding,” De Veyra said.
The village official hopes that their project will be replicated by other coastal villages of the city, whose families will be transferred to the relocation site to the northern part of the city.
The village council has already approved an ordinance establishing a mangrove forest in their community as part of the marine protected area.
“We hope that this will not only be done here in Paraiso, but also by other villages that surround Cancabato Bay,” he added.
The importance of mangrove is not limited to coastal and shoreline protection and in the propagation of marine life, but this can also be promoted for eco-tourism, according to Trina Dacuycuy of the Department of Tourism.
Speaking to locals, Dacuycuy said that planting and growing a thick mangrove forest could attract tourists that would provide alternative income.
In the region, popular mangrove forests for eco-tourism and educational tours are the Tabuk Marine Park, Fish and Bird Sanctuary in Palompon, Leyte; and the Lalaguna Mangrove Forest in Lavezares, Northern Samar.
Recently, Pinabacdao town launched their Mangrove Safari, which they open for educational trips.
“The success of this mangrove forest can also be achieved in Paraiso if people will learn to take care of what they have worked for,” Dacuycuy said.
Planting mangrove is not an easy task as it needs extra care to ensure that mangrove seedlings would grow, said Emma Germano, technical officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
After super typhoon Yolanda, DENR personnel made a study on mangroves forest in places hard-hit by the catastrophe to find out which species could withstand big waves.
Germano said that based on their initial observation in mangrove areas in Eastern Samar, mangrove species such as miyapi and pagatpat are more resistant to storm surges.
DENR targets 50,000 hectares of coastal area for the nationwide mangrove planting and rehabilitation. Of the total area, 13,000 hectares are located in the five provinces of Eastern Visayas. (PNA)
LAP/SQM/ROEL T. AMAZONA/EGR