TOURISM VS ENVIRONMENT | Esplanade extension could kill Iloilo River mangroves

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Esplanade extension could kill Iloilo River mangroves ‘ tag=’h3′ style=’blockquote modern-quote’ size=” subheading_active=’subheading_below’ subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=”]

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ILOILO City – The ongoing land reclamation at the Iloilo River to further extend the Iloilo Esplanade could kill mangroves growing there, warned the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 6.

The land reclamation for an embankment from Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Avenue Bridge to Jalandoni Bridge (Esplanade 4) and all the way to Forbes Bridge (Esplanade 6) would deprive mangroves of seawater, according to Director Jim Sampulna.

The land reclamation started on April 19 yet. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is overseeing it.

The Iloilo River, passing through 35 barangays, is a source of livelihood for fisherfolk and a habitat and nursery for many fish species, thanks mainly to the lush mangroves growing on its banks.

Sampulna said the embankment would deprive the mangroves growing along the bank of the Iloilo River – actually an estuary – with saltwater.

The Iloilo River, some 15 kilometers long, is home to an estimated 22 mangrove species.

“All of these mangroves will die,” said Sampulna.

DPWH should put big culverts under the embankment to allow seawater to reach the mangroves, said Sampulna.
“Dalawa kasi ang hinahanap ng mangroves – salty water at saka sunlight na tatama dapat sa roots,” the director explained.

Like coral reefs, mangrove forests are extremely productive ecosystems that provide numerous goods and services both to the marine environment and people. They are home to a large variety of fish, crab, shrimp, and mollusk species. These fisheries form an essential source of food for coastal communities.

The dense root systems of mangrove forests trap sediments flowing down rivers and off the land. This helps stabilizes the coastline and prevents erosion from waves and storms. In areas where mangroves have been cleared, coastal damage from typhoons is much more severe.

DPWH hoped to finish Esplanade 4 and Esplanade 6 by the end of March 2018.

Should it be necessary to cut the mangroves, DPWH must first secure DENR’s approval, said Sampulna.
“Or else, Republic Act (RA) 7161 ang maba-violate nila,” he said.

RA 7171 incorporates certain sections of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1977 to Presidential Decree No. 705 as amended (Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines).

Sampulna also said DPWH would be required to plant 100 mangroves propagules as replacement for every mangrove tree it would be cutting.

“So far, wala pa silang request na magputol ng mangroves,” said Sampulna.

On the other hand, work on the Esplanade 3 (from the Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Avenue to Jalandoni Bridge in Barangay Nabitasan, La Paz district) is ongoing. It is on the other side of the Iloilo River across Esplanade 4.

The Iloilo Esplanade (Esplanade 1), some 1.2 kilometers long, was formally opened on Aug. 19, 2012 as part of efforts to rehabilitate the Iloilo River and enhance its tourism and economic potentials. Built at a cost of P58.7 million, it stretched from Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue to Carpenter’s Bridge in Mandurriao district.

The area is now a popular recreational space for walking, jogging, open-air dining, and venue for river water sports.

Across the Iloilo Esplanade 1 on the other side of the Iloilo River is the Esplanade 2. (With a report from the Philippine Information Agency/PN)



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