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Mangrove Rehabilitation : Challenges and Enhancements for Effective Restoration

Mangrove Rehabilitation : Challenges and Enhancements for Effective Restoration

In a continuous endeavor to restore and conserve critical coastal ecosystems, the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation has teamed with many companies to carry out mangrove rehabilitation initiatives in Cotcot Liloan, Cebu, since 2010. However, the program has experienced a number of challenges that are now being addressed in order to increase its effectiveness and assure the initiative’s long-term viability.

Species Biodiversity

One of the key issues identified is the lack of diversity in the mangrove species being planted. Across all planting sites, partner companies have focused solely on planting Avicennia marina, locally known as miyapi or bungalon. While Avicennia marina is a strong mangrove species, promoting biodiversity by incorporating other species is vital for the overall health and resilience of coastal ecosystems.

Planting Spacing

Despite the limited species diversity, the planting spacing of 0.5m x 0.5m in a zigzag pattern adheres to the standard mangrove rehabilitation protocols. However, an additional concern arises from the initial height of the seedling materials used, which is below the recommended 50cm requirement for seafront planting. This shortfall could potentially impact the survival and growth rate of the mangrove seedlings.

Suitability of Substrate

Furthermore, the mid-portion planting site has proven unsuitable for replanting due to the shifting sandy substrate influenced by the nearby river mouth outflow. Sadly, this natural occurrence has resulted in the burial of 89% of the 500 mangrove seedlings planted by LEAR in January 2023. The careful selection of suitable planting sites is crucial for the long-term success of mangrove restoration efforts.

Foreign Debris and Fencing

Another obstacle faced by the program is the attachment of floating debris, seaweeds, and detached seagrass blades to the planted mangrove seedlings in the seafront site. Over time, this clinging debris causes the stems to break and ultimately leads to the mortality of the plants.

Measures to ensure survival of mangrove seedings

To address this issue, CCEF has implemented specific measures during the June 24, 2023 planting activity. A separate planting site has been allocated to establish a Fixed Quadrat (FQ) as a control site for regular monitoring. Additionally, individual bamboo stakes have been fixed to support each planted mangrove seedling, serving as markers during high tide. Furthermore, a netted bamboo fence has been installed around the planting area to reduce wave action and collect floating debris, such as seagrass, seaweeds, and trash, which can harm the delicate newly planted mangrove seedlings.

Collaboration with Local People’s Organizations

In relation to the mangrove nursery, CCEF has noted that members of Participating Organizations (PO) have set up a number of simple backyard nurseries in Purok Bakhaw. This structure enables easy access and everyday maintenance. However, because there aren’t many nearby parent trees, identifiable seedling banks are occasionally obtained in neighboring municipalities and barangays. Caretakers reuse little transparent cups whenever feasible and use them as plant bags. Additionally, they gather sand and mud deposits from the beach and store them in their backyards for later use. The seedlings are shielded from the hot heat by overhead coverings and seawater is collected for routine watering.

Finally, numerous recommendations have been made to improve the effectiveness of the mangrove rehabilitation effort.

“To begin with, there is an urgent need to develop a uniform mangrove rehabilitation program to guide future initiatives. By investing funds for regular monitoring of the planted seedlings, the maintenance and monitoring phase should be prioritized. PO members should be provided with full instruction and training on proper nursery and outplanting practices, as well as maintenance and monitoring protocols. Additionally, a separate planters’ orientation session should be scheduled a few days before each planting activity. This orientation will facilitate planting talks.”

Alexis Mae Cancino
Marine Biologist/ Protect Danajon Project monitoring Officer

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