During the three days in which the temperature climbs up to over 40°C on the Philippine island Mindoro, under the roof of an open wooden building close to the shore, people of mixed ages huddle around tables and add words to mind maps on large posters. As part of a planning workshop to first establish conservation areas in the island, this outdoor activity includes a boat trip into the natural reserve. Located just about 400 meters from the workshop venue, the protected area is an important habitat for fish, shrimp and crabs and a source of livelihood for inhabitants in the municipality.
Mr. Tapales, what was taught in the workshop and who are the participants?
The workshop’s objective is to make the community adjacent to the Marine Protected Areas understand how the protection of mangroves affects the abundance of fish and availability of seafood. Bakawan, for example, is a local mangrove species with a big root system that gives shelter to small fish, crabs, and shrimp. If the mangroves are cut down or frequented too often, their nesting areas are destroyed and their abundance will decrease. In the workshop, representatives from the barangay and the local youth discuss a strategy on how the community can work together to enhance the protection of their environment, avoid destructive fishing practices and promote appropriate use of the mangroves.
Why are there so many young people among the participants?
This is because of our summer job program. Once a year, college freshmen have the opportunity to work for the municipality for one month and earn some money that helps them financing their studies starting in June. The national program is partly financed by the Department of Labour and Employment of the Philippines (DOLE) and partly by the municipality. Usually during the summer job month, the college freshmen assist in the municipality hall, doing office work such as maintaining data or filing. We thought it would be a good idea to involve them in the workshop to offer them some variety in their work and introduce them to the local environmental matters. Here they can contribute their inputs and suggestions to protect the areas.
What do you think the teenagers will take home from the workshop?
Some find it very informative and might spread what they learned to their families and to other young fellows. Some of them might even be able to use the information for their studies. We think that involving the younger generations is important for the future protection of the mangrove forest and the coral reef and thus the fish stocks in the area. If they understand how the issue is linked to their own life in the community, they will engage themselves in preserving the environment. Maybe they even decide to choose a job in nature conservation.
By Jana Brauer, SNRD Asia Secretariat
Supported by GIZ, “Protected Area Management Enhancement in the Philippines” (PAME) assists the province of Occidental Mindoro in establishing a network of Marine Protected Areas. The CoRALS (Conservation and Rehabilitation of Aquatic Resources for Livelihood Sustainability) project is implemented by the Provincial Planning and Development Office in cooperation with 8 Municipalities. In Santa Cruz, one of the implementing Municipalities of the CoRALS project, three Marine Protected Areas, including a mangrove forest, a turtle nesting area and a coral reef are being planned.