Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rainforests and coral reefs. They supply water, improve water quality, provide flood and storm mitigation, act as a carbon sink, provide habitat for biodiversity and threatened species, and provide communities with livelihood and recreation.
One particular type of such are coastal wetlands, which includes mangroves. Despite the known potential of these areas to contribute to the world's way of life, in some areas in the world, wetlands and mangroves are not deemed to be of high value as compared to other ecosystems. Thus these areas are highly vulnerable to destruction from pollution, aquaculture, land conversion and other developments. But fortunately for a community in Batangas, they uphold the protection and conservation of these areas.
Samahan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda sa Pangangalaga ng Kalikasan sa Barangay Lagadalarin (SMMPKBL) and Olo-olo Seaside Workers Association (OSWA) are two of the coastal communities in Lobo, Batangas that promotes the conservation and growth advocacy groups under the Lopez group.
For these peoples organizations, they believe that mangroves, which are thick canopied trees with aerial root systems, have a valuable contribution to the lives of the members of SMMPKBL, OSWA, and their families.
According to Ate Mavic of SMMPKBL, mangroves serve as a shield to protect the community from any disaster such as typhoons, floors, and coastal erosion. While Ate Lolit of OSWA highlighted the importance of mangroves for their everyday meals and source of income as their sites are turned into eco-parks that bring in tourists from different parts of the world across all ages.
It is remarkable that through the group's efforts, they continue to patrol and maintain their mangroves even in the middle of the pandemic. It is not just the communities that benefit from the mangroves, but the ecosystem also relies on the community for it to continue thriving. To further protect the sites, they also partner with other organizations such as First Gen and its employee volunteers to plants more and more mangroves and maintain the eco-park. Since 2020 First Gen employee volunteers have planted 1,661 mangroves in Lobo.
This year's celebration of the World Wetlands Day is attuned to what is crucial for the present time — "Wetlands action for people and nature". You can take part in creating a relevant action for the planet and help uplift the lives of the families living along the coasts of Lobo, Batangas by growing a mangrove tree. You can adopt through Make a Difference Travel (MAD Travel).