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The Online Magazine for Sustainable Seas
August, 1999 Vol. 2 No. 8


Cogtong Bay:
A Mangrove Treasure Trove
Cogtong Bay's treasure trove of 33 true mangrove species is among the richest to be documented in the country

By C.E. Yao







ast of Bohol, about 2 hours from Tagbilaran City, can be found an increasingly rare sight in our coastal areas: a mangrove forest covering 1,400 hectares and spanning three municipalities. The place is called Cogtong Bay, and it is special not because the size of its mangrove forest because there are bigger forests elsewhere, but because of its rich biodiversity. In Cogtong Bay, at least 33 true mangrove species have been recorded, including such rare species as langarai (Brugiera parviflora), pototan (B. sexangula), pagatpat-baye (Sonneratia ovata) and tabyao or cajugao (Xylocarpus mekongensis). This is remarkable compared to, for example, a solid 2,000-hectare mangrove in Lanao del Norte, which is composed of about 15 species at most.

The rare Sonneratia ovata (C.E. Yao, 1998)

Cogtong Bay spans eight barangays in the municipalities of Anda, Candijay and Mabini. A big portion of the mangrove stand around Mabini and Anda is under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1251 on Mangrove Forest Reserves, while about 600 hectares of the total mangrove area within the Bay can be found in Candijay, particularly in the barangays (villages) of Cogtong, Buyuan and Panadtaran.

A two-week site evaluation conducted in May 1998 by the Mangrove Management Team of the Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP) documented 30 species of mangrove (see related article below). Four species were later added according to findings of a 1984 survey and a 1995 report from F. Vande Vusse, a noted mangrove researcher. Only four barangays with an aggregate area of 600 hectares were covered by the May 1998 survey, so there may well be even more species in the area.

Of the 33 recorded species, api-api, bungalon, pagatpat, bakauan lalaki, pagatpat baye, tabyao and nipa were found to be the most dominant. Four Brugieras were identified, a rare occurrence in a 500-hectare area. A pure stand of pagatpat baye - probably the only one of its kind in the entire Visayas - was also discovered. There were three Sonneratias recorded in the area - this is probably the only place in the country where this occurs. A pure stand of pagatpat baye was found in Panadtoran, Candijay. Pagatpat baye, or S. ovata, is the rarest of the three Sonneratias, found only in one site in Siquijor and two sites in Bohol. Another rare species recorded was tabyao or cajugao, the only member of the Xylocarpus family with pneumatophores that start to emerge at year 10.

The survey also revealed this distressing fact, however: Cogtong Bay's treasure trove of mangroves is under serious threat from heavy poaching and fishpond development. Boats loaded with tabigi poles were a common sight. Fishpond developers, looking to cash in on rising demand for milkfish and shrimps, were back in earnest, clear-cutting some areas to build fishponds.
Fortunately, Cogtong Bay has been the site of several projects aimed at conserving its rich mangrove resource. The residents of many coastal villages around the Bay are therefore already well aware of the ecological value of mangroves and the laws regulating the development of mangrove areas. Their vigilance has helped curb new fishpond developments and the re-opening of abandoned fishponds in the area.

Mangrove ferns. C.E. Yao 1998

Much more needs be done to ensure the conservation of Cogtong Bay's rich biodiversity, however. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Local Government Units (LGUs) must act to immediately stop illegal mangrove cutting and fishpond operations. DENR, along with the Department of Agriculture (DA), must expedite the reversion of all abandoned and undeveloped fishponds under Fishpond Lease Agreements (FLA). DENR, DA and the LGU can compel banks to turn over to the DENR all foreclosed FLAs so that abandoned fishponds can be reverted to mangroves and managed by the community under a Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA). LGUs can also establish a mangrovetum (a plantation consisting of several species) for educational, research, seed production and ecotourism purposes.

As a unique national treasure, Cogtong Bay is well worth protecting. The communities here are lucky in that they realized early that mangroves are much more ecologically and economically valuable when kept intact. Unlike other communities that must now face the expensive and daunting task of rehabilitating their mangroves, the people of Cogtong Bay can still take, if they so choose, the preventive approach to managing their mangrove resources and thus avoid the hard lessons that the others learned too late.

Cogtong Bay's Mangrove Treasure Trove

These are the mangrove species that have been documented in Cogtong Bay:

Major mangrove species
A. marina (bungalon)
A. alba (bungalon puti)
A. officinalis L. (api api)
A. lanata (piapi)
Lumnitzera littorea [Jack.] Voight (kulasi)
L. racemosa Wild (tabao)
Nypa fruticans (nipa)

Bakauan Lalaki (C.E. Yao 1998)
R. apiculata Blume (bakauan lalaki)
R. mucronata Lamk (bakauan babae)
R. stylosa Griff (bakauan bato or bangkaw)
R. x lamarkii Montr (bakauan hybrid)
Brugiera gymnorrhiza [L.] Lamk. (busain)
B. sexangula [Lour] (pototan)
B. cylindrica [L.] Blume. (pototan lalaki)
B. parviflora [Ronb.] W. & A ex Griff (langarai)
Ceriops tagal [Perr.] C.B. Rob (tangal)
C. decandra [Griff] Ding Hou (malatangal)
S. alba J. Smith (pagatpat)
S. caseolaris [L.] Engler (pedada)
S. ovata Backer 1929 (pagatpat baye)

Minor mangrove species
Dolichandrone spathacea (tui)
Camptostemon philippinense [Vid.] Becc. (gapas-gapas)
Excoecaria agallocha L. (buta-buta)
Pemphis acidula J.R. & G. Forst. (bantigi)
Xylocarpus granatum Koen (tabigi)
X. muluccencis (tabyao/cajugao)
Aegiceras corniculatum [L} Blco. (saging-saging)
A. floridum Roem & Schult (tindok-tindukan)
Osbornia octodonata F. Muell. (tualis)
Acrosticum auerum L. (lagolo)
A. speciosum Willdenow (lagolo)
Scyphiphora hydrophilacea Gaerth. f. (nilad)
Acanthus ebracteatu Vahl. (tigbau)

Mangrove associates
Intsia bijuga [Collebr.] O. Ktze. (ipil)
Heritiera littoralis Dryand. Ex. Ait. (dungon-late)



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