Senator Risa Hontiveros is pushing for a national program that will build a 100-meter strip of coastal vegetation, such as planting a ‘greenbelt of mangroves’, to help provide safeguards to coastline communities vulnerable to the effects of typhoons.
The senator’s Senate Bill No. 1917 or An Act Establishing the National Coastal Greenbelt Program aims for a science-based, cost-effective national program to address flooding. The bill mandates the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to convene all relevant national government agencies to identify priority areas especially in the Eastern Pacific seaboard, where typhoons often make landfall. The CCC will then oversee the the formation of the 100-meter strip of mangrove and beach forest species from the sea towards land.
“Our coastline of 36,000 kilometers is among the longest in the world and these coastal greenbelts will help us mitigate the damaging impacts of waves and storm surges.” the Senator said. “Coastal forests can also reduce the force, depth and velocity of a tsunami, lessening damage to property and reducing loss of life.”
Hontiveros expects the ‘greenbelt of mangroves’ to serve as ‘protection zones’ which will help prevent coastal erosion and mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change on human lives and properties. The coastal towns of Pasacao, Balatan, Ragay, and Bula in Camarines Sur, as well as Libon and Pio Duran in Albay were heavily hit by Super Typhoon Rolly and Ulysses, where almost 80 percent of Bicol region’s coastal families have reportedly been displaced and lost their homes.
“Had government invested in more science-based environment protection programs such planting mangroves in vulnerable coastal areas, the devastation would have been mitigated,” she said. “With at least 20 typhoons battering the Philippines in a year, it is imperative to think of innovative, sustainable and cost-efficient ways for us to be able to protect our safety, our properties and communities from the devastating impacts of natural disasters. Let us listen to science. Hindi na ito dapat maulit.”
The National Coastal Greenbelt Program under this measure, Hontiveros said, can also reap added benefits. Building coastal greenbelts is expected to protect biodiversity, improve fisheries productivity, and enhance the tourism and livelihood potential of the priority areas.
“Nature-based solutions will not only help us reduce disaster risks. But they will also address our biodiversity crisis. Maaagapan natin ang pagkawala ng milyun-milyong uri ng hayop, isda at mga halaman na ngayon ay nanganganib na tuluyang maglaho dahil sa pagkasira ng mga bakawan,” she said.
Hontiveros also underscored the importance of innovative, sustainable and cost-efficient ways for vulnerable coastal communities to protect themselves, their properties and communities from the devastating impacts of natural disasters.
“Marami nang bagyong nanalasa sa ating bansa. Oras na para bigyang espasyo sa ating mga polisiya at batas ang pagtugon sa climate emergency. Tapusin na natin ang pang-aabuso sa ating mga likas-yaman at simulan ang mga programang mag-aalaga at higit sa lahat, magpapalakas ng depensa laban sa mga kalamidad. The proposed 100-meter strip coastal vegetation is a critical step towards transforming coastal villages into highly resilient and sustainable communities prepared to weather any storm,” she concluded.