Relief agency embarks on restoring Liguasan marsh's ecosystem

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/1 Dec)- The World Food Program (WFP) of the United Nations has embarked on restoring the ecosystem of the Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao through massive tree planting of indigenous species of trees.

The project, according to WFP-UN deputy country director Asaka Nyangara, will help address climate change, which he said is one of the global issues that have impact on hunger.

Effects of climate change, he stressed, pose risks to food and agriculture, including water supply, which are basic to human and animal survival.

Abonawas Pendaliday, environment consultant of the municipal government of Sultan sa Barongis, said that the deforestation of the Liguasan Marsh has led to the death of many species of fish, trees, and flora and fauna.

“Residents depend much on the marsh for their everyday living. But because of continued cutting of trees and the influx of people, villagers have very little harvest of fish, thus depriving them of food,” said Pendaliday.

Based on records, the marsh has at least 95 species of flora, including the African oil palm, tamlang (bamboo), kapok (silk cotton), and kling-a-sambulawan (striated bamboo).

On Friday, Nyangara, together with other WFP-UN officials, visited Barangay Darampua in Sultan sa Barongis town, where a nursery that hosts more than a hundred thousand seedlings of trees endemic to the more than 200,000-hectare Liguasan marsh is located.

Nyangara’s visit to the site was the second this year. The first was in April.

The marsh is located at the tri-boundaries of the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

The nursery under the project dubbed as “Carbon sequestration: a tree plantation carbon sink-pool,” is funded by the WFP-UN and is implemented by the LGU of Sultan sa Barongis through the Ligawasan Marsh Climate Change Lead Action Force.

The project, according to Pendaliday, “is for environmental rehabilitation.” Pendaliday is volunteer consultant of the action force.

As a community initiative, trees were planted by villagers in deforested areas around the marsh, the biggest in Asia and believed to have vast deposits of methane gas and oil.

Meantime, reforestation projects in the northern portion of the marsh, particularly in Tulunan town in North Cotabato, are ongoing.

On Thursday, the Sangguniang Bayan of Tulunan has approved a resolution granting authority to Mayor Lani Candolada to allocate funds amounting to P128,499.

The resolution was passed three months after Candolada entered a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 12 to implement the National Program Support for Environment Project.

The project has funding support from the World Bank, according to Tulunan Vice Mayor Joemar Cerebo, also the presiding officer of the town’s legislative council.

Tulunan, a third class municipality in North Cotabato, has at least four villages near the marsh, including Popoyon, Dongos, Galidan, and Tambak, which also need massive reforestation. (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)