Ecosystem Management and Restoration: Combating Disasters by Protecting Ecosystems Using a Landscape Approach
When Typhoon Monang battered the coastal village of Sabang in1993, massive swells from the ocean engulfed houses near the shore and killed scores of residents. One local recalls fleeing her home under the heavy downpour together with her cousin, and losing grip of the other girl as raging flood waters swept them away. Her cousin wasfound dead the next day. This grim episode in the villagers’ collective memory has left them fearful of news of approaching storms. Preventing such tragedies was ACCORD’s mission in Calabanga, a municipality in Camarines Sur that is home to 11 storm surgeprone coastal villages, one of which is Sabang. This was done by implementing a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) program complemented by an Ecosystem Management and Restoration (EMR) strategy.
This approach requires the active and meaningful participation of local communities. Empowering them to become active participants rather than victims means equipping them with the proper tools to assess their risks and vulnerabilities, and guiding them through capacity trainings and education. This will help them plan courses of action that are well-adapted to existing hazards and their own social context. Incorporating EMR into the process will augment the overall results of the program, for instance, by creating healthier ecosystems which may decrease disaster risks in both coastal and upland communities and also contribute to creating sustainable livelihood opportunities.
ACCORD supported building the capacity of residents against climate and disaster risks while mainstreaming the protection and management of natural resources in communities that are located near the shores and in upland areas. Part of its DRR program in Barangay Sabang is the introduction of mangrove reforestation as a small-scale mitigation measure to help reduce the adverse impacts of disasters in this time of anthropogenically-induced climate change.
A similar approach of rehabilitating ecosystems to complement disaster risk reduction and management was introduced in barangays and municipalities of Davao de Oro and Agusan del Sur. ACCORD and CARE implemented EMR activities such as riparian reforestation using indigenous tree species, slope erosion mitigation, and tree planting in portions of the upper Agusan River basin, and the Agusan Marsh.
Years after the implementation period of the projects described in this study – one project was launched in 2009 and the other, in 2015 – ACCORD continues to nurture ties with these communities and link them with opportunities for capacity building. The communities have also been able to sustain their EMR efforts.