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The Online Magazine for Sustainable Seas
November, 2000 Vol.3 No. 11

Saving the mangroves of Bohol
Strong leadership shown by the local government of Bohol has laid the groundwork for ongoing and future efforts to save and protect the province’s precious mangrove resources.

-- By Calixto E. Yao, Mangrove Specialist, CRMP





n the early 1960s, the province of Bohol had 19,456 hectares of mangrove, including 5,187 hectares released as Alienable and Disposable (A&D) land for fishpond development (Appendix A). This was significantly reduced in the 70s and 80s, because of firewood harvesting and fishpond conversion, both legal and illegal, in connection with the food production campaign of the government. Government has admitted subsidizing such mangrove destruction through a loan of US$23.6M from the International Bank for Rural Development (IBRD) and US$21.8M from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). (Primavera, 1994).

In 1989, ADB granted the Philippines another loan, this time to rehabilitate the mangroves. Rather ironic, but very necessary, if only to restore the mangrove areas for timber production, for the protection of shoreline from strong waves and of seagrasses and corals from sedimentation, and for providing sanctuary and food (detritus) to marine life. At that stage, donor agencies had realized the true value of mangroves: according to some studies, a ton of fishes is lost annually from every hectare of mangrove destroyed (White et al,1998).

Against this backdrop, the local government of Bohol embarked on a mangrove management program aimed at rehabilitating its mangrove areas, and conserving remaining mangrove stands.

Bohol has the biggest mangrove area in Central Visayas, accounting for about 69% of the total mangrove area of (29,692 ha) in the region. The mangrove areas are under three major land uses: natural stand; fishpond (both illegal and those under Fishpond Lease Agreement (FLA); and plantation.

Vast areas of natural mangrove stands
The big chunks of mangrove used to be located in the following municipalities (a big portion of these areas has been converted to fishpond):

  • Cogtong Bay has the biggest mangrove chunk in Bohol, with 2,000 hectares covering the three municipalities of Anda, Candijay, and Mabini (Janiola,1996). The area is noted for the high diversity of mangrove species found there. Dominant trees include api-api (Avicennia officinalis), piapi (A. lanata), pagatpat (Sonneratai alba), pagatpat baye (S. ovata), bakauan babae (Rhizophora mucronata), bakauan lalaki (R.apiculata), the four Bruguiera species, tabigi (Xylucarpus granatum), tabyao or cajugao (X. moluccinces, formerly X. mekongensis), and maragomon- (Brownlowia tersa). The high infusion of freshwater through the three big rivers (Sagumay, Matulid and Tangkigan) in the area accounts for the diversity nd good growth of mangroves in the area.
  • Loay has a mangrove area covering 305 hectares and consisting of nipa (riverine) and pagatpat. The area is a mangrove reserve by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1522. It has one of the few remaining old-growth pagatpat forests in the country.
  • Tagbilaran City has 55 hectares of mostly pagatpat and bungalon (A. marina) trees on sandy substrate.

Harvesting nipa: Nipa is an economically important
species in many Bohol communities

  • Cortez has 153 hectares of pure nipa stand, which supplies Cebu with nipa shingles.
  • Maribojoc- Loon has an aggregate area of 889 hectares of fringe mangroves dominated by pagatpat and bungalon. The whole mangrove stretch has a few coves and narrow, short riverine areas where back mangrove species, such as busain, tabigi and tabaul, are found.
  • Inabanga-Buenavista has a mangrove area of 850 hectares dominated by nipa, most of which are retarded and yellowing due to over-harvesting and possibly change in water depth or inundation. A big portion of the mangrove is a Protected Area by virtue Presidential Proclamation Number 2152.
  • Talibon used to have 2,561 hectares, mostly along Ipil River; api-api is the dominant species. Fishponds – both abandoned fishponds under FLA and illegal fishponds – that have been revegetated cover a large of the area.

Rich biodiversity
Aside from the several rare species found in Cogtong Bay, Bohol has other rare species such as a bakauan hybrid (suspected to be Rhizophora lamarkii, the sterile hybrid of bakauan bato and bakauan lalaki). This species is present at the Pangangan Causeway, Calape and Handumon, Handayan Island, Getafe, Bohol. Another rare species in Central Visayas is the pedada (Sonneratia casiolaris) found along the banks of Inabanga River, Inabanga, Bohol. Langarai is also present in Manga, Tagbilaran City and Hunan, Buenavista.

Bohol has also some of the rare mangrove associates, such as the Philippine ebony (also called batulinao or century tree, or by its scientific name (Diospyrus ferrea), and malarayap (Atalantea maritima), which are found in Panglao and Inabanga, respectively.

A pioneer in mangrove plantation establishment
Bohol has a long history of establishing mangrove plantations, with the oldest plantation dating back to the late 1950s. The province is also noted for having the biggest plantation established through community-based effort, and the highest survival rate under the Contract Reforestation Project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The plantations are located in the following areas:

Banacon Island’s Paden Pass: A community effort

  • Banacon Island, Getafe, Bohol is the site of the 200-hectare bakauan plantation, a community effort initiated by Eugenio “Nong Denciong” Paden, who received several awards for his effort. What makes Banacon popular, aside from its being a community effort, is its wide boat passage, which resembles a typical road network with a main road and several side streets. The “Highway” has been named “Paden’s Pass” in honour of the late Nong Dencion (Yao,1998). Encouraged by the success of the project, the DENR planted bakauan bato on an additional 200 hectares in 1990, through the Contract Reforestation Project. The new plantation, while achieving a survival rate of more than 80%, registered a low average height of 1.5 meters, probably due to lack of nutrients. The high survival rate may be attributed to the relatively low wave energy in the area, which is protected by the Camotes Island group from strong sea currents from the north (Pichon, 1977)
  • Nasingin, Getafe, an islet located along the Calituban Reef, has with a 200-hectare mangrove plantation established by the community with DENR assistance. The plantation is under Community Based Forest Management (CBFM), a DENR program which grants people’s organizations certain tenurial instruments to encourage them to ensure the protection and rehabilitation of the mangroves in their area.

Community effort: Most rehabilitation projects use
a community-based approach to mangrove management
and protection

  • Calituban Island, Talibon has 360 hectares of bakauan bato plantation established by DENR in 1990 under contract with the community. The island, like Banacon, is at the Calituban Reef, the outer barrier of Danajon Bank, the only double barrier reef in the country. Growth rate and survival rate are the same as that in Banacon.
  • Bilang-bilangan Island, Talibon
  • Panglao Island, Panglao

Bohol has a total plantation area of 1,405 hectares under a Contract Reforestation Project implemented in 1990-1993 through a loan from the ADB. There are also plantations established under the Integrated Social Project (ISF) of the DENR, which are now ready for harvest.

Besides DENR, other agencies/projects are involved mangrove rehabilitation. These include:

  • Central Visayas Regional Project (CVRP), a World Bank-assisted project implemented from 1986 to 1992, initiated the first big effort in mangrove rehabilitation (900 hectares region-wide). Some of the successful plantations are now a major source of propagules and seedlings for other provinces.

Sowing the seeds: Bohol’s plantations supply mangrove
seedlings and propagules to other provinces.

  • Rain-fed Resources Development Project (RRDP), a US Agency for International Development (USAID) -assisted project implemented in 1992-1995, has planted about 400ha in Cogtong Bay
  • Fishery Sector Program (FSP), an ADB-funded project implemented by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) and DENR in1994-1996, planted 2,000 hectares through contracts (at Php7,000/hectare) with people’s organizations or through a community-based system which paid the community 20 cents per propagule.
  • Baclayon-Rotary Club-Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS)-DENR project planted 3 hectares along the shoreline of Baclayon, which is officially designated as a mangrove area through a LGU ordinance.

            These projects have increased public awareness for the importance of mangroves, not only as source of timber, but also as nursery and sanctuary for some commercial fishes, shrimps, and mudcrabs.

Some helping hands
Because of the strong leadership that Bohol’s provincial and municipal executives have exhibited in environmental management, the province has attracted several donor projects engaged in mangrove rehabilitation and coastal resource management.

Bohol Governor Rene Relampagos and Vice
Governor Edgardo Chatto: Setting the tone for
mangrove management and conservation in Bohol

Listed below are some projects supported by donor agencies:

  • Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP), a DENR special project supported by USAID, is mandated to provide technical assistance to the coastal LGUs in coastal resource management. CRMP, through its Mangrove Management Component (MMC), has made Bohol its pilot site in assisting DENR implement CBFM in the mangrove areas.

The CBFM is a departure from the traditional DENR approach to forest management, which focused on regulating human activities. CBFM encourages communities to manage forest resources, including mangrove areas, by providing them with tenurial rights over these areas, providing them livelihood, and thus ensuring the protection of the mangrove resources. Such strategy has proven to be most suited to abandoned and undeveloped mangrove areas under FLA.

  • Community-Based Resource Management Project (CBRMP), a World Bank-assisted project, is now being implemented in Inabanga and Duero. Ten other LGUs have signified their intention to avail of the soft loan package offered by the project.
  • Feed the Children, a non-governmental organization, is implementing a number of coastal management activities in Tubigon under a grant from the Japanese government. Activities are focused on enterprise development, including blue crab fattening, fish cages, and mangrove-friendly aquaculture (MFA), such as mudcrab culture.
  • Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Foundation, a German project in Tubigon, is being implemented in Clarin by the local government with assistance from the Local Government Development Foundation (LOGODEF) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Reverting abandoned FLA areas
According to a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) report published in 1999, Bohol has 5,187 hectares available for fishpond development, but only about 4,116 hectares are covered by Fishpond Lease Agreements (FLA). Of those covered by FLA, about one-third have been abandoned or remain undeveloped because of lack of capital and technology.

Some of the abandoned FLA areas are mortgaged and have been foreclosed by banks. These areas have already been re-vegetated; any clearing activity will now require a permit from DENR. In some areas, the local community, aware of the laws regulating the clearing of mangroves, is opposing new development. A number of laws, such as Presidential Decree (PD) No. 704 and PD 705, and a DA-DENR memorandum (Joint Memorandum Order (JMO) No.3, series of1991), provide that FLAs covering areas that have been abandoned for at least five years should be cancelled by BFAR and recommended to DENR for reversion to timberland. These laws, however, have not been fully implemented because of some legal technicalities.

Given the increasing awareness for the true value of mangroves and public demand for mangrove areas to be placed under DENR’s CBFM program, CRMP has initiated the formation of a Technical Working Group (TWG) on FLA Reversion composed of representatives from DA-BFAR, DENR, LGUs and NGOs. The TWG ‘s primary responsibility is to implement JMO No. 3, which mandates DENR and DA-BFAR to cancel FLAs on abandoned fishponds and revert the area to timberland so that such area can be rehabilitated for timber production and environmental protection. The group is presently delineating five abandoned FLA areas for possible cancellation and reversion to timberland, possibly under CBFM Agreement with the communities involved. This, we hope, will set a precedent and pave the way to the national implementation of JMO No. 3.

And more ...
Several other mangrove rehabilitation and management projects are underway in Bohol. These include:

  • The Mangrove Causeway in Pangangan, Calape has become a landmark and a living example of the protective value of mangrove. The causeway used to be vulnerable to damage by typhoon until the students and the community planted mangroves (Rhizophora species) along its sides.

Mangrove-friendly aquaculture: New mudcrab-growing
technology provides extra income to local communities
while promoting mangrove protection.

  • Mangrove friendly aquaculture (MFA) or aquasilviculture is a new technology being promoted by DA-BFAR under the food security program of the government. It involves raising mudcrabs or shrimps within mangrove areas (under mangrove trees) with little or no disturbance to the mangrove ecosystem. BFAR and CRMP offer training in mudcrab culture using the MFA technology. BFAR has showcase MFA projects in two Bohol municipalities (Trinidad and Ubay).
  • Mangrove management training is being conducted by CRMP in various areas in Bohol to improve local capabilities in managing mangrove areas.
  • A mangrovetum is presently being established with CRMP assistance by LGUs, people’s organizations and NGOs in a number of sites. A mangrovetum is a plantation consisting of several mangrove species planted in blocks according to genus and family for easy growth comparison and differentiation. It serves several purposes, including educational, research, conservation of biodiversity (Yao, 1994) and for tourism development. The community may also earn extra income from the sale of rare mangrove propagules sourced from the mangrovetum.
  • The production of mangrove bonsai is being promoted as a livelihood project for people’s organization. CRMP has identified four mangrove species suitable for bonsai production. These are bantigi (Pemhis acidula), tualis (Osbornia octodonta), mala-tangal (Ceriops decandra), and Philippine ebony (Diospyrus ferrea, also known locally as batulinao or Century Tree), a mangrove associate found on rocky shorelines. The Philippine ebony is listed among the most expensive and prized bonsai species (Agricultur,1999) because of its horizontal branching, shiny leaves and black bark.  

The challenge
Bohol is not without its own problems in mangrove management. Illegal cutting, the continued delay in the reversion of abandoned FLA areas to mangrove, and reclamation of mangrove areas are but some of the more persistent challenges that face the province in its effort to rehabilitate and manage its mangrove resources. In this regard, the following measures are recommended:

  • Establishment and maintenance of mangrovetums by local governments and people’s organizations assisted by DENR and DA-BFAR to conserve and improve biodiversity, for seed production and for ecotourism development.
  • Cancellation by BFAR of FLAs on abandoned FLA areas and reversion by DENR of these areas to timberland and their eventual inclusion in DENR’s CBFM program.
  • Inclusion by DENR of abandoned illegal fishponds in its CBFM program.
  • Promotion by BFAR and LGUs of community-managed MFA projects.


Agriculture, 1999. Batulinao’s lucky charm running out? Agriculture, March 1999

BFAR 1999. Total Number of FLA Issued From January 1973 to Present BFAR Regional Report

DENR, 1986, Land Classification Report

Janiola, E. 1996. Mangrove rehabilitation and coastal resources management in Cogtong Bay:Addressing management issue through community participation. In Seeds of Hope. Ed E.M. Ferrer, LP. Dela Cruz, and M.A. Domingo.

Pichon, M. 1977. Physiography, Morpology , and Ecology of the Double Barrier,  North Bohol,Philippines). Proc. 3rd Int. Coral Reef Symposium. Miame.2:262-267.

Primavera, J. 1995. Mangrove and brackishwater pond culture in the Philippines. Hydrobiologia, 295:303-309

White, A and A. Trinidad, 1998. The values of Coastal Resources: Why protection and management  are critical. CRMP,DENR,USIAD, Cebu City

Yao, C.E., 1999. Mangroves of Cogtong, Canopy International, 1999

______1998, Nong Denciong: Guardian of Banaco, Tambuli, CRMP

______1994, Mangrovetum Seed Production and   Botanical Attraction, The Philippine Lumberman, May-June, 1994

______, 1999. Mangroves of Cogtong Bay, Rich in Biodiversity, Canopy International

______,In the Press. Mangrove Strip Along Calituban Reef



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