Press Release
November 26, 2013

Villar welcomes directive to grow mangrove trees
as defense against storm surges

Sen. Cynthia Villar today welcomed the directive of the President to put up more mangrove forests in coastal areas all over the country as a natural barrier against deadly storm surges.

Villar noted that the planting of mangrove trees will be part of a comprehensive program of environmental protection being prepared as a reaction to the devastation brought about by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

"The inclusion of no-build zones in coastal areas in this program is a step in the right direction. I also suggest that this program include a moratorium on reclamation because reclaiming of lands could lead to the destruction of natural marine barriers like mangroves," Villar said, as she welcomed the signing of an executive order delegating to the National Economic Development Authority the approval of any reclamation project.

Villar also asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to not only concentrate on areas hardest hit by Yolanda-spawned storm surges but also in other coastal areas.

"We have seen how the storm surge flooded Roxas Boulevard and caused damage to hotels and other establishments in the area. This means urban areas like Metro Manila are as vulnerable as any coastal area in the country," she said.

"Our action should now be definite because these storm surges, as experts tell us, are not new. We hear of records dating as far back as 1897 where 7,000 lives were lost and in 1912 where some 15,000 died in the Visayas due to typhoon and tidal waves. The experts also tell us that storm surges will be more frequent because of climate change," she added.

In coastal cleanup activities initiated by the senator, planting of mangrove trees were incorporated because of its many benefits in preventing soil erosion and in providing nurseries for marine life.

A 2012 study conducted by the University of Cambridge disclosed that "mangroves slow the flow of water as the surge moves inland and reduce the waves riding on top of the surge, lowering water levels and reducing damage behind the mangroves." The senator also urged the government to implement the National Greening Program under Executive Order No. 26, which mandates the planting of 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of land, including mangrove reforestation.

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