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.
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
Bay's Mangrove Treasure Trove
These are the mangrove
species that have been documented in Cogtong Bay:
A. alba (bungalon
A. officinalis L.
A. lanata (piapi)
[Jack.] Voight (kulasi)
L. racemosa Wild
Nypa fruticans (nipa)
Bakauan Lalaki (C.E. Yao 1998)
R. apiculata Blume
R. mucronata Lamk
R. stylosa Griff
(bakauan bato or bangkaw)
R. x lamarkii Montr
[L.] Lamk. (busain)
B. sexangula [Lour]
B. cylindrica [L.] Blume.
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
S. caseolaris [L.]
S. ovata Backer 1929
[Vid.] Becc. (gapas-gapas)
Pemphis acidula J.R.
& G. Forst. (bantigi)
X. muluccencis (tabyao/cajugao)
[L} Blco. (saging-saging)
A. floridum Roem
& Schult (tindok-tindukan)
F. Muell. (tualis)
Acrosticum auerum L.
A. speciosum Willdenow
Gaerth. f. (nilad)
Intsia bijuga [Collebr.]
O. Ktze. (ipil)
Dryand. Ex. Ait. (dungon-late)