The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has added the municipality of Abucay and the city of Balanga in Bataan among its roster of Project TRANSFORM recipients, the Department’s program that engages the whole of society in implementing programs to alleviate poverty, strengthen community resilience, and promote strong public-private partnerships in the country.

Through the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on July 31, the DENR has forged two Project TRANSFORM partnerships where the DENR and public and private partners will implement the Mangrove Adoption and Protection Project in the two areas aimed to enhance the province’s resiliency amid natural disasters and climate change impacts.

Project TRANSFORM or Transdisciplinary Approach for Resilient and Sustainable Communities through Multistakeholder Engagement was launched in the municipalities of Limay, Mariveles, and Orion in the same province as pilot sites in Luzon on May 9.

TRANSFORM aims to bring together best practices from the government and private sectors to create an inclusive, science-based, and data-driven template that all stakeholders, partners, and local government units (LGU) may utilize to combat the escalating climate emergency.

Bataan Governor Jose Enrique “Joet” S. Garcia III said that Project TRANSFORM is a “timely and welcome catalyst” in the province’s journey towards resiliency and growth that results in stable and empowered families. The provincial government of Bataan has been pushing for the rehabilitation of mangrove forests as part of its primary and continuing efforts through the aid of various organizations.

The Bataan province, composed of 11 municipalities and 1 city is surrounded by the West Philippine Sea and Manila Bay. With a coastline of approximately 177 kilometers, mangroves play a vital role in the protection of Bataan against natural disasters as these serves as a natural barrier against storms and floods. Furthermore, it provides habitats for various marine species such as fish, prawns, and crabs, which consequently provides income for fisherfolks. Mangroves are also known to significantly aid in the fight against climate change as it has the ability to capture and store carbon four times greater than other tropical forests.

Under the partnership, the DENR will collaborate with the San Miguel Foundation Inc. (SMFI) and SM Prime Holdings, Inc. for the adoption and protection of mangrove areas in the municipality of Abucay and city of Balanga respectively.

The SMFI and SM Prime Holdings, Inc., through their corporate social responsibility programs, will provide the necessary funding as well as participate in all mangrove planting activities in the municipality of Abucay and Balanga City respectively.

The maintenance, conservation and enhancement of the adopted mangroves forests will also be supported by the Bataan provincial government, Abucay and Balanga LGUs, DENR Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office-Bataan, and DENR Community Environment and Natural Resources Office-Dinalupihan.

The Abucay Mangrove and Adoption Project is also in partnership with community-based organization Samahan ng Mananahong ng Sitio Bakawan. It will be carried out in Sitio Bakawan in Brgys. Wawa and Calaylayan, involving an estimated area of five hectares suitable for mangrove plantation.

Meanwhile, the Balanga City Mangrove Adoption and Protection Project will be in Brgy. Puerto Rivas, Ibaba comprising an estimated area of eight hectares and in partnership with community-based organization Tinig ng Mandaragat.

Specifically, activities under the agreement include the identification of mangrove areas to be protected and areas to be enhanced and rehabilitated, collection of mangrove propagules, the conduct of enrichment planting in the adopted site, provision of technical assistance in mangrove protection and evaluation, coordination with concerned national government agencies, and the conduct of information, education, and communication related to mangrove protection and the governing environmental laws.

Under DENR Administrative Order 15-90, the government promotes the conservation, protection, rehabilitation, and development of mangrove resources in the country and the active participation of organizations in its utilization and development.###