Discussion of some of the threats to mangroves in the Philippines, and how to help.
The Philippines were once home to over 400,000 hectares of mangroves, but in 1994 it declined to under 120,000 hectares (Garcia et al, 2013). Now in 2017, the coverage has even further decreased, with over 50% of the mangroves being lost. Why would this happen, considering the wide range of economic and ecological benefits that mangroves offer? There are a few key issues, but the majority of the problems can be attributed to human behavior. Some of the largest issues include forests being converted to agricultural land, industry, pollution and deforestation. In the Philippines, the largest threat to mangrove forests are the creation of fishponds for commercial fishing and shrimp farming. (“Rehabilitating Mangroves in the Philippines” ). While the initial economic gain from converting these areas into aquaculture, agricultural land and industrial areas is seemingly large, mangroves actually offer over $1.5 billion (USD) of ecosystem services (“Rehabilitating Mangroves in the Philippines”). These services include but are not limited to coastal protection, climate stabilization, carbon storage, source of food and tourism. Often after these fishponds are created they are left abandoned, and the mangrove forests are left destroyed. This doesn’t make sense, since there are more sustainable farming options, and destroying the mangrove forests often offer no long-term gain. This is one of the many ways that education can help to prevent such serious losses. Teaching people the value of mangroves, as well as sustainable farming practices can help to prevent these losses from occurring.
Much of the destruction that occurs is due to illegal harvesting of mangroves or illicit creation of fish ponds. This illegal activity is frequently due to individuals not having legitimate avenues for economic success, education could help resolve this issue. More strictly enforced protection of the mangroves also could help to eliminate this illegal activity. You can help by volunteering or donating to Enhance a Village! You can read more about how our organization can help end the cycle of poverty in my next blog post.
Garcia, Kristine & Gevaña, Dixon & Malabrigo, Pastor. (2013). Philippines' Mangrove Ecosystem: Status, Threats, and Conservation. Mangrove Ecosystems of Asia: Status, Challenges and Management Strategies. 81-94. 10.1007/978-1-4614-8582-7_5.
Rehabilitating Mangroves in the Philippines. (n.d.). Retrieved August 24, 2017, from https://www.zsl.org/conservation/regions/asia/rehabilitating-mangroves-in-the-philippines