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Volunteer organizations promise to continue NegOr’s mangrove planting

In Negros Oriental, a coalition of volunteer organizations has pledged to continuously plant thousands of mangrove trees to save the region’s coastlines and aid in the fight against climate change.

The goal of the Allied Mangrove Planting Organizations (AMPO), according to Sidney Lee, the organization’s planting coordinator, is to plant 600,000 mangrove trees by the end of October.

“Since October 2015, we have already planted 520,000 mangrove trees, and on July 23, we were able to plant an additional 20,000 mangrove seedlings at the Tanjay City boardwalk area,” added Lee.

“There are many volunteers eager to carry out the activity each month, so we can easily complete the remaining 60,000 mangrove plants for our aim this year by then.”

According to him, not everyone is aware of the significance of mangroves, which are coastal plants or bushes that not only defend the shoreline but also provide food and refuge for animals.

Mangroves contribute in carbon sequestration, which can lead to a smaller carbon footprint overall. They are also a natural habitat for some marine animals, according to Lee. They sequester twice as much carbon as terrestrial trees, which is a significant contribution.

Although there are 33 different varieties of mangroves in the Philippines, he claimed they are in danger because people cut down these coastal trees for fuel.

The Negros Oriental ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) Association of Corps Commanders (NORACC), of which Lee is a member, took the initiative to plant one million mangrove plants in the province’s maritime forest in 2015.

Back then, the Tanjay City local government unit in Negros Oriental granted permission for the NORACC to restore and rehabilitate 52 hectares of mudflats around its boardwalk by planting mangrove trees.

“With the 540,000 trees and seedlings already planted, this is our major site for the huge mangrove forest restoration,” Lee added.

Later, the NORACC led the AMPO informal coalition, which today consists of 12 non-governmental groups working together to advocate for the restoration of Tanjay Boardwalk’s dwindling mangrove woods, a popular tourist site.

He claimed that during the early years, they planted 100,000 mangrove trees annually, but the pandemic caused a two-year slowdown in their activities.

The crew had to locate a different location in this capital city’s Banilad when the boardwalk was sealed down; there, they planted mangroves after the quarantine restrictions had already loosened, according to Lee.

However, he continued, “our objective is to actually be able to plant one million mangrove trees at the boardwalk in ten years, and we are optimistic that we can achieve that, due to the volunteers from the public and private sectors, including the youth.

The partnership will expand its lobbying efforts beyond the boardwalk mudflats in the upcoming years to support the restoration and expansion of mangroves throughout the province.

The alliance is hoping that more groups and volunteers would be made aware of the value of the mangrove ecosystem and become actively involved in its protection and conservation when the globe observes International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem on July 26.

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