MANILA – Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda on Wednesday reiterated her call to pass a measure that seeks to establish national coastal greenbelt zones across the country that will play a critical role in disaster reduction and climate change mitigation.
Legarda said in the explanatory note of her proposed Senate Bill 1117, or the National Coastal Greenbelt Act of 2022, while mangroves and beach forests and seagrass beds play such important roles in mitigating effects on the environment and livelihood in the country’s 822 coastal communities, especially during heavy typhoons, their existence is also at risk.
“We should revive the ecological integrity and restore the bounty of our coastal communities in view of mitigating the damaging effects of natural coastal risks on human lives and properties,” she said in her statement.
Legarda said it is about time to develop and implement science-based policies that would restore and regenerate mangrove forests, as well as map coastal resources across the country.
Mangroves and beach forests and seagrass beds act as the natural defense against typhoons, coastal erosions, and storm surges.
Legarda, a known environment advocate, said mangrove forests are one of the most severely threatened and undervalued ecosystems. Land development, reclamation, pollution, and illegal conversion and conversion of mangrove forests into fishponds are just a few of the threats to the country’s almost 360,000 hectares of mangrove forests.
With these challenges, she said, it is about time to establish a Comprehensive and Integrated National Coastal Greenbelt Management Plan (NCGMAP) that would protect mangroves and beach forests and seagrass beds.
The NCGMAP shall contain operational plans that will cover the reversion of all abandoned fishponds to mangroves through natural regeneration or replanting with appropriate species.
“These coastal greenbelt zones will protect the country’s 822 coastal communities must be protected and the comprehensive water resources management plan must be integrated into all development plans, programs, and projects of all public and private sectors,” she said.
She urged the national government and local government units, businesses, non-government organizations, local communities, and the public to participate in the development, implementation, monitoring of plans, and activities of the NTAC, which would institutionalize the coastal greenbelt framework strategy. (PNA)