TACLOBAN CITY – The local government unit of Arteche, Eastern Samar is pushing for the development of an ecotourism site that would boast the largest mangrove forest in the province.

Mayor Roland Evardone said Friday the municipal government has already asked the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to fund the construction of a boardwalk within the 169-hectare mangrove area in the coastal village of Beri.

The budget requirement is P20 million, he told Philippine News Agency in a phone interview.

Evardone said TIEZA has yet to respond to the request.

“Part of the project is to declare some parts of the mangrove forest as protected areas for different marine species. This is in support of our coastal resource management plan,” he said.

Evardone said the mangrove forest in Beri is the largest mangrove forest in Eastern Samar and a natural habitat for different flora and fauna.

Mangrove forests also provide natural infrastructure and protection to nearby populated areas by preventing erosion and absorbing storm surge impacts during extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes or typhoons.

Arteche is a third-class town with a 58.66 percent poverty incidence. The town has 16,320 population as of 2020.