Calabanga’s Mangrove Reforestation: A Decade After (Portraits of Resilience)

Effective and sustainable disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation is almost impossible to achieve without safeguarding the health of ecosystems. And in some cases, the solution to protecting a community from natural hazards lies in nature itself. Mangrove reforestation, for instance, can serve as a small-scale mitigation measure to strengthen community resilience.

Barangay Sabang is one of 11 coastal villages in Calabanga, Camarines Sur prone to storm surges and flooding. But by transforming a vast expanse of abandoned fish ponds into a lush mangrove forest, the community built a shield against hazards. This was done through the collaboration of the local government, national government agencies, civil society organizations, academic institutions, and a dedicated group of volunteers from the community, who planted more than 150,000 mangrove propagules along riverbanks and throughout the coastal areas of Calabanga.

After the rehabilitation of the mangrove forests, residents of Barangay Sabang observe that inland flooding brought by storms have become less intense compared to the ones they used to experience. The mangrove forests also help mitigate saltwater intrusion to nearby agricultural barangays; thus, preventing damage to crops.

A boom in the population of marine species was likewise noticeable, with mud crabs and a variety of fish now calling the roots of the mangroves home. The forests also serve as a sanctuary and breeding ground for freshwater species. These days, villagers say their waters teem with small fish and play host to the occasional butanding (whale shark).