Not mere embellishments

Monday, June 10, 2019

One of the greatest tragedies of all time is humanity’s haughty  belief that it can survive without Nature, at the extreme, or that we can cope with climate risks – at our own pace.

We have become so consumed by short-term profits and gains, that our duty to deliver a sustainable future for our children has clearly been obfuscated.

An Australian think tank,  Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, published recently “What Lies Beneath” and warned that we have “another 31 years before 90 percent of mankind is annihilated by climate change.” 

In 2006, scientists projected  the collapsed by 2050  of the world’s fish stocks at the rates of destruction by fishing. They also said that “the loss of biodiversity impairs the ability of oceans to feed the world’s growing human population — expected to rise by 50 percent to nine billion in 2050.”

Prof. Callum Roberts, of the University of York, who was not part of the study, pointed out that “The animals and plants that inhabit the sea are not merely embellishments to be wondered at. They are essential to the health of the oceans and well-being of human society.” 

His statement should reverberate strongly in this part of the world, a mega-diversity rich country which together with 16 other countries, host 70 percent of the world’s biodiversity. We have a vastly threatened biodiversity due to  overexploitation of resources, pollution,  extreme vulnerability to climate change and overpopulation.

One clear example is the loss of our mangrove forests. Mangroves are home to fish, crustaceans and wildlife. Their roots provide critical refuge and “nursing environments for juveniles of thousands of fish species, from 1-inch gobies to 10-foot sharks.” 

Mangroves absorb carbon dioxide. It is said that “Blue carbon ecosystems (mangroves, sea grasses, and salt marshes) can be up to 10 times more efficient than terrestrial ecosystems at absorbing and storing carbon long term, making them​ a critical solution in the fight against climate change.”

Likewise, they are essential to coastal communities in serving as “natural buffers against storm surges”.

In this country, it is a crime to cut and kill mangroves. It is perplexing the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and some local government units act as if they could not care less. 

With  such critical ecosystem services mangroves provide, what do you think  of  the “Earth-balling Permit” given by the DENR to the DPWH that involved the destruction of 900 plus mangroves in Dumanjug, Cebu, allegedly for “Flood mitigation and seawall” – in the heart of Taňon Strait Protected Seascape at that?

By constructing a seawall, the flow of the needed waters from the sea will obstruct the other area where there are mangroves and surely will kill them, as some are already dead and dying.

We wonder how the Protected Area Management Board chaired by the DENR Regional Director Gilbert C. Gonzales have advised these agencies? There are many unanswered questions.

This article first appeared at