MALU CADELINA MANAR /TJD,
KIDAPAWAN CITY â€” The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has embarked on restoring the ecosystem of the Liguasan marsh in Maguindanao, possibly the countryâ€™s only remaining wetlands, through massive indigenous tree planting efforts.
The project, according to WFP deputy country director Asaka Nyangara, will help address climate change and its impact on world hunger. Effects of climate change, he stressed, pose risks to food, agriculture, and water supply â€” all of which are basic to human and animal survival.
The 200,000-hectare Liguasan marsh has at least 95 species of flora, including the African oil palm, tamlang (bamboo), kapok (silk cotton), and kling-a-sambulawan (striated bamboo). It is supposedly the biggest in Asia and believed to have vast deposits of methane gas and oil.
Abonawas Pendaliday, environment consultant of the local government unit (LGU) 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.
â€œResidents here depend much on the marsh for their everyday living. But because of the continued cutting of trees and the influx of people, villagers here have very little harvest of fish, thus, depriving them of food,” said Pendaliday.
On Friday, Nyangara and other WFP officials went to Barangay Darampua in Sultan sa Barongis town, where they visited a nursery of more than a hundred thousand seedlings of endemic flora.
This was Nyangara’s second visit to the site since April.
The Liguasan marsh is located at the boundary of the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat in southwest Mindanao.
The nursery project is funded by the WFP and is implemented by the LGU of Sultan sa Barongis through the Ligawasan Marsh Climate Change Lead Action Force.
As a community initiative, trees were planted by villagers in deforested areas around the marsh.
Meantime, reforestation projects in the northern portion of the marsh, particularly in Tulunan town in North Cotabato, are ongoing.
On Thursday, the Sangguniang Bayan (legislative council) of Tulunan approved a resolution granting authority to Tulunan mayor Lani Candolada to allocate funds amounting to P128,499 for the project.
The resolution was passed three months after Mayor Candolada entered a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 12 to implement the National Program Support for Environment Project, which is funded by the World Bank.
Tulunan, a third class municipality in North Cotabato, has at least four villages near Liguasan marsh, including Popoyon, Dongos, Galidan, and Tambak, which also need a massive reforestation.