The  National Conference on Wetlands, Climate Change Adaptation and Biodiversity Conservation (NCWCCBC) held on 12 to 14 January 2009 at Silliman University in Dumaguete City aimed at setting the stage for the development of a national policy on wetlands, and a national strategy and action plan for the wise use of wetlands and wetlands resources, incorporating concerns on biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation.

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Field Exposure Trip/Observation and Community Interaction

The theme of the Field Exposure Trips on the second day of Conference (13 January 2009) was Community-Led Wetland Management Strategies.  There were 5 field exposure sites, namely Apo Island, Bayawan Wetland, Lake Balanan, Bais Bay Mangrove Reserve and Lake Balinsasayao.

Bais Bay Mangrove Reserve
The area boasts of an extensive mangrove area that is managed by the community.

We intended to visit the mangrove areas and the sand bar. The schedule was to visit the mangrove site where we can observe the mangroves stands and the associated flora and fauna. After which, we planned to proceed to the sand bar. Unfortunately, whale watching was not included in the itinerary since all the boats that are used for this activity are under maintenance that week.

The group left Silliman University at around 8:00 am since Bais City is only one hour away and the appointment at the Bais Port is still at 10:00am. We arrived in Bais Port before 10:00am. The contact NGO and the guides were already waiting. Vice-Governor Jose A. Baldado was also there to welcome us. At that time, the wind and the waves were already getting strong. After waiting in the Pier for almost an hour, we were informed that it is not safe to ride the bancas and cross the sea towards the mangrove areas because of strong waves and wind.

Vice-Governor Baldado instead suggested that the group instead proceed to a nearby mangrove area where we can still observe the ecosystem. Upon getting there, we noticed that there are many non-productive fishponds around although the mangrove stands are healthy. Most major mangrove species are present. Mangrove rehabilitation started in the early 90s with the help of Silliman University and a grant from DENR-ERMP. The mangrove stands continuously thrive due to the active involvement of the LGU with the NGOs and POs.

The group had the opportunity of interacting with the NGOs and POs present although it was a short discussion because of the inclement weather. Vice-Governor Baldado invited the group to the City Hall where we he gave us an account of the environment-related projects in the City and in the Province as a whole. We had a good discussion with Mayor Hector Villanueva and other LGU officials and staff who were present especially on technical aspects of mangrove rehabilitation. We also learned a lot from them on aspects of how they were able to derive livelihood from these activities such as whale watching and mangrove trek.

– excerpt from the report of Dr. Honorato G. Palis


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