“If one wants to harvest, one has to plant or sow”: Partnerships Materialize Mangrove Reforestation in Hagonoy

Sowing the seeds for growth and development through partnership working -Mangrove Reforestation Project in Hagonoy, Bulacan 

By FEED Ambassador Natalia Sali; “One Child, One Tree” Founder & Coordinator, 12 September 2017

Introduction 

In the Philippines, there’s a saying that if one wants to harvest, one has to plant or sow. It simply means that good things just don’t happen; we work hard to achieve them.

The same principle applies to ONE CHILD, ONE TREE project, an endeavour of the newly-formed partnership between schools, the local government, local government agencies, different non-governmental organisations, private corporations, volunteers, and FEED, Inc. One Child, One Tree Project is based on a concept that a child, once made aware about his/her role in looking after the environment, will become an advocate and will continue to do his/her part as he/she grows old. A child who plants his/her own tree will then own the responsibility of nurturing this tree.

The project started from a simple idea of instilling in children the value of trees. It has now the potential to grow into a long-term environmental project – one that will ultimately benefit not only the environment but also empower the community residents.

OCOT2.pngWe started our partnership 2017 when we planted 1,000 trees and trained 4,000 students in 25 primary schools in Hagonoy, Bulacan. More than 30 volunteers were recruited and trained to deliver the training to students and assist in planting trees. The DENR donated narra and mahogany whilst Fostering Education and Environment for Development, Inc. (FEED) donated 100 fruit bearing trees and healthy mulberry trees.

“Maganda yong gawain dahil nagiging aware na mga bata pa lang sila, eh natututo nang magtanim. Na-oorient din sa kahalagahan ng pagtatanim“, Leonora Robles, teacher from Sitio Buga Elementary School said. (Trans. It was fruitful because the children became more aware when they were taught how to plant. They were also taught how to care for the trees they planted).

The volunteers found the experience enriching and eye-opening. As John Victor said, “Nakakapagod pero worth it dahil me myself ngayon lang din ako naging aware sa nangyayari sa paligid natin. Di natin mararamdaman sa kasalukuyan pero pagdating ng panahon tayo rin ang makikinabang.”  (Trans. It was tiring, but worth it – I myself became more informed about our situation i.e. flooding, but in time we will also benefit from these efforts).

Different implementation partners joined the project including FEED, UP Mountaineers/Green is Good, BulSu Eco Rangers, PATAS, and DENR Bulacan. They have shared their resources including practical help in training and planting, their time, and technical expertise. “I am so further inspired, touched, and moved by today’s experience. I wish we could continue this as it inspires everyone to do so and most importantly, the kids who will hopefully be transformed”, said Anne-Marie Mananquil Bakker of FEED.

OCOT1.pngCatherine Bustos-Usi of Eco Rangers said, “It was a successful project! The children were so happy planting the trees. They even named their own trees. The teachers assisted us in planting and were very supportive. It was a great experience for everyone”.

Tibaguin Mangrove Reforestation Project 

Phase 1: Ocular Visit, Mobilisation and Community Environment Training 

Our first visit to Tibaguin. In the course of the first tree planting event, volunteers have identified issues that can be tackled on a long-term basis such as frequent flooding in 50% of the schools and the lack of source of Mangroves that can be planted in different areas. In a visit conducted by a group of volunteers, it was also found that the nearby forest has diminishing number of mangroves.

As a result of this, a meeting was held with teachers, community leaders and parents in Tibaguin, Hagonoy, Bulacan who have planned the development of mangrove nurseries. The nurseries will grow mangrove seedlings which will then be out-planted in the coastal areas of Hagonoy.  Ms. Effie Santos, school head of Tibaguin Elementary School, has offered some spaces to become nursery sites. She said that, “This project will not only be for the school, but will benefit the whole community” (Ms. Ef Santos, Tibaguin ES head).

OCOT3.pngThe nursery development is an important stage of the community-based mangrove reforestation project, a partnership among the community, and partners including FEED, Inc., BuLSU Eco Rangers and volunteers from the One Child, One Tree Project. 

OCOT4.pngWe believe that involving the community will ensure that the technical expertise and motivation is built among community members which will result to effective maintenance of the forests and commitment to protect the environment. Many reforestation projects fail and are not sustained because they are not based on science and don’t involve the community.

All people involved in this project – from the research to out-planting – are volunteers and they do this because they are committed to protect the environment. Some volunteers have also started raising funds to build the nurseries and have approached different associations for assistance.

Second Activity in Tibaguin 

Meeting with School Personnel, Barangay Leaders, Parent Leaders on 17th May 2017 

“Be aware, act, and believe in what you do” is the challenge posed to us by a fellow Hagonoy resident and president of the Hagonoy Fish Farmers Producers Cooperative (HFFPC), Mr Vic Cruz, in a conversation with One Child, One Tree volunteer Jan Philip Cabrera. He has inspired us even more to continue with our Mangrove Reforestation Project in Hagonoy.

OCOT5.pngThe aim of the meeting is to plan the development of the mangrove nursery in Tibaguin Elementary School which will be a source of continuous supply of mangroves for outplanting and will be maintained by community volunteers.

Catherine Bustos Usi, another One Child, One Tree volunteer and Philip met with Tibaguin Barangay Chair Cesar Aranas, Kagawad Rica Loreto, school teachers and community leaders on May 17 to start planning the nursery development. It also coincided with the Brigada Eskwela where parents and volunteers also planted mangroves in the school.

OCOT6.pngThe nursery will be developed in July and Mr Cruz has agreed to help us kick-start it with a donation of 1000 seedlings. He further said:  “Kumilos na tayo hindi para sa ngayon, kundi para sa hinaharap. Ang kinabukasan ng mundo ay nakasalalay sa ating mga kamay ngayon” (Trans. Let us act now not for today’s but for tomorrow’s future of the world which lies in our hands).

Training on Mangrove Reforestation & Conservation, 30th May 2017 

OCOT7.png

Vic Cruz, Head of the Hagonoy Fish Farmers Producers Cooperative  (HFFPC) with OCOT’s JP Cabrera.

The training was held on May 30th 2017 with the participation of speakers Mr. Ronnie Bernandino of the Bulacan Agriculture Office, Mr. Jose Jimmy San Jose of Taliptip Ecopark, Diane Penales and Anne-Marie Mananquil Bakker of FEED, and Mr. Vic Cruz of HFFPC. Also in attendance were Diane Penales, VP Operations (FEED), Nomer Cuartero (Head of Volunteers, FEED), Catherine Bustos and Gelo (Eco Rangers) and Jan Philip Cabrera (One Child, One Tree).

After the training, community residents volunteer to help in the building of the nursery which will be started in June 2017. Kagawad Rica Loreto and Barangay chari Cesar Aranas were in full support of the project along with Ms. Ef Santos, school principal and teachers and parents.

OCOT.pngPhase 2: Nursery Building 

Meeting with Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan on Friday 16th June 2017 

“Mas maganda kung dadami pa ang katulad ninyo sa bayan ng Hagonoy; tulong-tulong, sama-sama” (“It will be nice if there will be more of you in Hagonoy; helping each other and doing things together”) – Hon. Gov. Alvarado.

OCOT9.pngThe team composed of representatives from FEED, One Child, One Tree (OCOT), Eco Rangers and HFFPC met with the governor and Ms. Elizabeth Apresto of Bulacan Environemnt and Natural Resources Office (BENRO) on 16ht June. Prior to the meeting, the governor has had the sight of the project proposal on Mangrove Reforestation prepared by Natalia Sali of OCOT and Catherine Usi of Eco Rangers.

He has endorsed the project to Ms. Elizabeth Apresto with an instruction to donate P20,000 to start the building of mangrove nursery in Tibaguin.

He emphasized that his government will fully support OCOT’s advocacy, saying: “One Vision, One Road – One Child, One Tree”. He will also sign an Executive Order to prioritize the environment awareness and implementation of environment projects including solid waste management. In addition, the governor also agreed to endorse environmental projects by OCOT and FEED to the DepEd Regional Superintendent which will encourage schools to hold training events and seminars and implementation of projects such as Bio Intensive Garden and tree planting.

It has been agreed for BENRO to monitor the project implementation and for updates to be given to the governor on regular basis. This also means that the project can approach the Bulacan government to support next phases of the project.

OCOT and FEED will maintain transparency and will report to Ms. Apresto including how funds had been used.

Nursery Building, July 15th 2017 

The first phase of the nursery development was started on July 15th 2017. A group of volunteers from One Child, One Tree Project along with community residents from Tibaguin started the fencing and planting of 2,000 mangrove propagules. The propagules were bought at P1.00 each from the nursery of the HFFPC led by Mr. Vic Cruz.

Photo Journal

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nursery Mangroves as of September 1st, 2017 

Phase 3: Mangrove Research 

Research training and the conduct of research itself will be in September and October 2017 .

Avicennia.jpgThe coastal town of Hagonoy, Bulacan has suffered the same conditions. Naturally, the municipality is a floodplain traversed by the Angat and Pampanga Rivers on their exit to the Manila Bay. Mangrove species such as Avicennia sp., Rhizophora sp., Sonneratia sp. and sasa lined the inland rivers and the coastal areas. Unfortunately today only dots of mangrove areas are extant in the coasts at its background are the fishponds and communities exposed to destruction and disaster at an increasing trend each year.

The proposed rapid assessment is not only overdue but in the race of time since these important artifacts of the expansive forest before will be sooner or later be engulfed by the sea and destroyed by human factors. The current research will provide insights on what is present and what was it before and what contributed to the changes and the effects of these changes to livelihood and lives of people. More than these, the assessment may give recommendations for the protection and rehabilitation of the coastal areas.

Hazard & Vulnerability Map Bulacan.jpg

Source: Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR); Department of Public Works & Highways (DPWH) and Provincial Engineer’s Office of Bulacan.

The study is aimed at establishing the baseline on the biodiversity and health of the extant mangrove areas outlying the coast of Hagonoy, Bulacan. It will conduct:

  • an inventory of the mangrove species thriving in the coast of Hagonoy;
  • map the remaining mangrove forest;
  • make preliminary assessments of the threats affecting the health and biodiversity in these mangrove areas;
  • probe local knowledge related to these mangrove areas, particularly in terms of local taxonomy of species and changes in the mangrove areas; and
  • identify areas suitable for mangrove rehabilitation through assessments and surveys and to provide recommendations for long term protection of the remaining mangrove forests in the municipality and its nearby environs.

Methodology 

This Quasi-quantitative Rapid Assessment. Rapid assessment will be conducted by limiting observations to the:

  1. number of trees
  2. identification of species
  3. mangrove density, and
  4. height.

BFAR LogoIdentification of species shall require validation through the collection of samples and documentation through pictures that will be consulted with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Local ecological knowledge through discussions with residents. Several discussions will be done with coastal folks regarding the past conditions of the mangrove areas, local knowledge on the taxonomy of species, past and on-going threats, trends and other relevant information. Both in-depth interviews and focused group discussions shall be utilized.

UP Dept of Geography Logo

Mapping

The data gathered from GPS readings shall be embedded with quantitative and qualitative observations to produce meaningful maps for scientific exposition. The cartographic services of the University of the Philippines Department of Geography shall be tapped for this purpose.

Data Collection, Analysis and Supervision 

Ateneo Logo.pngThe research team will be supervised by Dr. Severino Salmo III, PhD of Ateneo Manila University. It will be composed of volunteers who will be trained on conducting the assessment.

All members of the team shall undergo orientation on mangrove identification and assessment including a discussion on safety at sea and a training on interviewing and conducting of focused group discussions.

Moreover, proper communication will be channeled with the concerned municipality and barangay officials. Assistance from the local Bantay Dagat and BFAR will be solicited as part of the safety procedure.

For More Information

Contact natalia@feed.org.ph o or call/text +63 (0)917 552 4722.

 

 

© FEED, Inc.