TACLOBAN CITY – The Local Government Unit (LGU) of Arteche in Eastern Samar has tapped former illegal loggers and timber poachers to rehabilitate its Beri Mangrove Forest.

Mayor Roland Boie Evardone said that 24.4 hecatares of the total 538 hectares of mangrove forest have been reported to have been destroyed by illegal activities such as cutting of mangrove for housing, timber, and charcoal production, as well as for an illegal fishpond and fishing.

“In the next 2 years, we plan to reforest 40 hectares of mangrove forest, wherein we will create a Mangrove nursery,” he shared, citing that 12 existing mangrove species are growing in the area.

“The poachers will be keepers of the mangroves. They will also be looking for “tawin” or mangrove propagules for the nursery, while their wives will also serve as tour guides in the future,” he added.

Evardone said they will also be partnering with schools, agencies, and fraternities for the said program.

“We plan to create activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, riding the local baluto, etc. We will promote the area for Mangrove Education among schools,” he shared.

The Sangguniang Bayan will likewise enact an ordinance requiring couples to plant mangroves before securing marriage certificates.

The mayor has laid out their ecotourism plans that involve the declaration of protected areas for snapping shrimps (tabakla), crabs, and marine and fish sanctuary. By Marie Tonette Marticio (EV Mail April 3-9, 2023 issue)