Press Release
December 20, 2013

Villar leads mangrove-planting activity at LPPCHEA

Sen. Cynthia Villar yesterday led the mangrove-planting activity at the Las Piñas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area (LPPCHEA).

"I am very happy that you are all with me today taking care of this very important habitat area. We should be proud of LPPCHEA, this is the last remaining beach and mangrove area in Metro Manila," Villar said, addressing more than 300 people who trooped to the 175-hectare protected area to take part in the mangrove-planting activity.

About 1,000 mangrove seedlings were planted by the group, augmenting the ones planted as far as 20 years ago.

"Taking care of the environment is not only a job for the personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. We should all take part in caring for the environment because we will all be harmed if we allow its destruction," said Rey Aguinaldo, manager of the LPPCHEA.

LPPCHEA was declared a protected area by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1412. It was voted in the Ramsar List, or the list of the world's most important wetlands along with the Tubbataha Reef in Sulu and the Underground River in Palawan.

The area boasts of a mangrove forest, lagoon, beach, and countless trees of various species. It serves as sanctuary for dozens of bird species, including migratory birds from as far as Siberia. It is also a resting area for the Philippine duck and Chinese egret. Personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police, Las Piñas Red Cross, students of the Dr. Filemon Aguilar Information Technology, representatives of the Alliance for Stewardship and Authentic Progress, and representatives of Las Piñas barangay and homeowners associations attended the tree-planting activity.

"We should plant more mangroves to reinforce our protection against storm surges. We have seen how Palompon town in Leyte was spared by the storm surge because their mangroves served as barriers that weaken the tides," Villar said.

She said most of the towns in Leyte were not as lucky, like Tanauan, where 1,100 people died when the sea rose and pushed a kilometer inland during the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda.

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." Villar, in recognition of the importance of mangroves, has authored two bills in the Senate, namely, Senate Bill 142, or the National Mangrove Forest Protection and Preservation Act and Senate Bill 143 or the act establishing the coastal environment program.

The coastal environment program seeks to establish reservation areas in all coastal municipalities in the country solely for the preservation, protection, reforestation, afforestation and sustainable development of mangrove forests.

"We should resist any attempt to destroy the LPPCHEA mangrove forest. The planned reclamation will inhibit the natural flow of water, which mangroves need to thrive," she said.

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