Mangroves better than dolomite for Manila Bay rehab –UP biologistsBy JOAHNA LEI CASILAO,GMA News
Biologists from the University of the Philippines on Friday advised the government to use mangroves instead of covering Manila Bay’s shoreline with crushed dolomite as the former was a “cheaper and more cost-effective” form of rehabilitation.
In a statement, the UP Diliman Institute of Biology (IB) said that the use of mangroves for rehabilitation was promoted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as one of the most effective nature-based solutions that can contribute to biodiversity and conservation as well as being a climate change adaptation strategy.
“We advocate and are willing to assist the DENR in a science-based rehabilitation program for Manila Bay that targets the recovery of its biological functions and services… and understands the interplay between natural processes and human activities,” said the institute.
According to the IB, a rehabilitation program must demonstrate a grasp of land-sea connectivity as well as possible immediate, short-term, and long-term impacts at species, ecosystem, and seascape scales.
“Having ecologically healthy mangroves will also help lessen heavy metal contamination, a condition that beset Manila Bay for a long time,” it said.
The institute disapproved of the dolomite project, saying that the funds given to it could have been directed to “more viable, scientifically sound projects.”
According to the Department of the Interior and Local Government, P28 million of the P389 million allocation for Manila Bay rehabilitation and cleanup project
“The recent effort of dumping dolomite sand on a reclaimed part of Manila Bay is not the best way to be spending government money; a critical resource during the pandemic that could have been put to better use by spending for the needs of medical frontliners and the millions of our hungry fellow Filipinos,” it said.
It further added that the dumping of dolomite sand reduced the habitat of vulnerable and endangered bird species.
“Any habitat reduction or loss will reduce opportunities for migratory birds to feed and refuel on their migration journey. The dumping of dolomite in Manila Bay has effectively covered part of the intertidal area used by the birds thereby reducing their habitat,” The institute said.
The project was widely criticized in September over issues of possible health hazards from crushed dolomite as well as the timing of the project amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The DENR rejected the criticism while President Rodrigo Duterte congratulated Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu for the developments at Manila Bay. — DVM, GMA News