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P5-M mangrove nursery launched in Guimaras

December 11, 2006

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Inquirer, Dec. 11, 2006

ILOILO CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has launched a P5-million mangrove nursery in Guimaras province as part of its rehabilitation and restoration program of mangroves affected by an oil spill.

Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes on Thursday led the launching at Barangay Tando in Nueva Valencia town, the worst hit among five municipalities of the island-province.

The 5,000-square-meter nursery, funded by the Mirant Foundation, is the first of three central nurseries to be set up to replenish or replace mangroves that died after the oil spill hit the island on Aug. 11.

Two other central nurseries will be set up off Panobolon Island in Nueva Valencia and in Sibunag town.

Seven subsidiary nurseries will also be put up in these two towns, said DENR regional executive director Julian Amador in a press conference.

Funding for the other nurseries would come from the P130-million fund for the environmental rehabilitation program that will be implemented by the DENR, he said.

The program involves the planting of 200,000 seedlings to replace the affected mangroves. These will be replanted in new sites or the affected areas after three to six months.

Mangroves are essential to the environment and marine life because they provide shelter for terrestrial life and food for various organisms, and protect the shoreline from wave action.

Amador said the replanting could be completed by the end of next year in Guimaras and Iloilo provinces.

A total of 438 ha of mangroves in Guimaras out of 957.5 ha were affected by the oil spill, according to a DENR assessment conducted in August.

In Iloilo, 7.3 ha of mangroves were affected in Concepcion town and 18.6 ha in Ajuy. The oil sludge reached the shores of these towns from the Panay Gulf due to the northeasterly direction of the current.

In the affected mangrove areas of Guimaras, 92.5 ha are for enrichment planting and 60 ha are for new plantation.

The areas targeted for enrichment planting in Iloilo include a 1-ha area in Concepcion and 5.5 ha in Ajuy town.

Reyes said the mangrove rehabilitation program involved providing livelihood to residents especially those affected by the oil spill.

Amador said the program also involves the monitoring of mangroves and studies on bioremediation efforts.

Scientists have said that the full effect of the oil spill on the mangroves will only be known after several years.

Amador said the quality of coastal waters was improving and the toxic levels of the air in the affected communities were within normal range.

Nueva Valencia Mayor Diosdado Gonzaga said the residents have gradually returned to fishing.

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