PH recognizes Del Carmen’s mangrove forest as wetland of international importance

Photo from the Municipality of Del Carmen Facebook page

The Philippine government declared the Municipality of Del Carmen’s mangrove forest as a wetland of international importance on 2 February during the 2023 World Wetlands Day (WWD).

This recognition is expected to pave the way for the Del Carmen mangrove forest’s formal inclusion into the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. If accepted, it will be the ninth Philippine wetland to be listed under the international treaty.

“Our declaration today serves as a shoutout to all of us and all of you. Even the simplest actions can make the loudest noise,” said Del Carmen Mayor Alfredo Coro II in a PhilStar article.

Once considered one of the country’s illegal mangrove-cutting capitals, the small town in Siargao island now has one of the largest contiguous blocks of mangrove forests in the country spanning over 4,800 hectares. Through the development of a holistic, participatory, and science-based forest management plan, Del Carmen not only saved its mangrove ecosystem but also experienced a 200% catch increase for near-shore fishers and reduced poverty incidence by 32%, among other co-benefits.

The Del Carmen mangrove forest makes up over half of the Siargao Island Protected Landscapes and Seascapes (SIPLAS) and is home to 27 various mangrove species and a rich ecosystem both above and below the water. According to the National Research Council of the Philippines, the town’s endemic flora and fauna, as well as high biodiversity strongly support the mangrove forest’s inclusion into the Ramsar List.

The mangrove forest also proved to be a critical factor in the town’s resilience against typhoons as it was ground zero for 2021’s Category 5 Super Typhoon Rai’s landfall. The municipality said the mangroves were able to dampen the storm surges enough to prevent the complete wipeout of coastal settlements.

The Municipality of Del Carmen is a member local government of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. Its Mayor, Hon. Alfredo Coro II, serves as an Advisor to the ICLEI Climate Action and Low Emission Development portfolio.

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