Natural barrier against storm surge
TACLOBAN CITY – A team of Japanese and Filipino scientists are conducting their study on the characteristics of mangroves that survived the devastation of super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ when the region was hit on November 8, 2013.
The activity is part of an ongoing Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) -assisted project called Comprehensive Assessment and Conservation of Blue Carbon Ecosystems and their Services in the Coral Triangle, also known as BlueCARES.
BlueCARES is meant to identify the dynamics of the blue carbon or carbon dioxide stored in marine ecosystems in the coral triangle.
Coral triangle is the global center of marine diversity composed of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and Solomon Islands.
When the blue carbon system is damaged, an enormous amount of carbon is released to the atmosphere, adversely contributing to climate change.
Balangkayan and Hernani, both in Eastern Samar, are the project sites of the study as well as Aklan and Palawan provinces where mangroves along the coasts are surveyed and mapped using drones.
Studies show that the Philippines has about 50% of the total mangrove species in the world. Mangroves are also among the carbon-rich forests providing protection against strong waves and storm surges.
Studying the mangroves that survived Yolanda is crucial in the study of blue carbon system conservation.
“Results of the survey in Eastern Samar will contribute in producing maps of mangroves in the Philippines, and studying their dynamics in the context of disaster management. The surveys are also important in formulating a blue carbon strategy in the country,” said Dr. Kazuo Nadaoka, BlueCARES chief technical advisor.
Mangroves are also among the carbon-rich forests providing protection against strong waves and storm surges. Studying the mangroves that survived Yolanda is therefore crucial in the study of blue carbon system conservation.
“The project takes a long-range vision of hopefully contributing to a framework on blue carbon ecosystem conservation that is based on scientific evidence, and also identify conservation strategies at the local level,” JICA Philippines Senior Representative Yo Ebisawa.
“The results of the survey will help the team prepare recommendations on disaster management in coastal communities,” he added.
JICA has been working with academic institutions to come up with research to address global issues in the environment, disaster management, and health among others under its Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development or SATREPS.
The project is the first tripartite cooperation among Tokyo Institute of Technology, University of the Philippines Diliman, and Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fishery in Indonesia.
The study team aims to help guide decisions of nations with rich biodiversity when it comes to battling against climate change.
BlueCARES study began in 2017 and will end in 2022.
Already, the project team completed initial surveys in Busuanga and in Panay Island, and mapping of mangroves and seagrasses in Eastern Samar.
(ROEL T. AMAZONA)