Press Release
October 10, 2019

Nancy eyes creation of "coastal greenbelts" to protect vulnerable shoreline communities

With the protection of coastal communities in mind, Sen. Nancy Binay is pushing for the creation of buffer zones along vulnerable shorelines. Binay has filed Senate Bill No. 1082 or an "Act Establishing the National Coastal Greenbelt Action Plan" to reduce the impacts of cyclones in the coastal communities of the country with an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective initiative.

Citing a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), the senator noted that the Philippines is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world.

According to UN-OCHA, an average of 22 tropical cyclones enter the Philippine area of responsibility annually, of which around six to seven cause significant damage.

"Thus, coastal communities become vulnerable to such tropical storms due to their natural exposure and lack of resources for preparation and recovery," she said.

Studies from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO) also show that coastal forests and mangroves are helpful in mitigating cyclone damages and are affordable than artificial sea defenses which, in many cases, were found to be ineffective, she said.

According to study made by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, more than 50 percent of Philippine municipalities are coastal while all major cities lie in coastal areas.

Based on Landsat mapping of the Philippines' mangrove forests from 1990 to 2010 done by by Jordan B. Long of Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) and Chandra Giri of ARSC Research and Technology Solutions, both of which were contractors of U.S. Geological Survey in South Dakota, the estimated total area of Philippine mangrove coverage is 256, 185 hectares in 2000. This was published in the Journal of Coastal Research in 2013.

Under SBN 1082, the Climate Change Commission "shall identify and convene all national agencies responsible for foreshore management, mangrove and beach forest protection and utilization, coastal land and sea-use planning, coastal tourism development, social welfare of coastal communities, and other relevant mandates, to prepare an integrated National Coastal Greenbelt Action Plan (NCGAP).

Under the measure, a coastal greenbelt stretching at least 100 meters in width from the sea towards land will be established in priority areas in each coastal province, municipality and city identified in the NCGAP. Local officials shall prepare a Local Coastal Greenbelt Action plan (LCGAP) to facilitate the implementation of mandated actions in the program.

The bill defines "coastal greenbelts" as strips of natural or planted coastal vegetation, stretching at least 100 meters in width from the sea towards land, primarily of mangrove and beach forest species, which are designed to prevent coastal erosion and mitigate the adverse impacts of natural coastal hazards on human lives and property.

The NCGAP shall contain, among others, the rapid inventory of the status of coastlines and foreshores, including the status of mangroves, beach forests, settlements, structures and fishponds within 100 meters therein; the assessment of priority areas to be declared as coastal greenbelts, for each coastal province, city and municipality, to protect by means of mangroves and beach forests, based on vulnerability to storm surges, waves, tsunami and the like; designation of priority areas for coastal greenbelts that are already included as either a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (Republic Act No. 7586), or as a fish refuge or sanctuary under the Fisheries Code of 1998 (Republic Act No. 8550), or as a local marine protected area as may be declared by municipalities and cities through ordinances; and the operational Plan for the rehabilitation, reforestation or afforestation of designated priority coastal greenbelts.

The NCGAP shall also contain the operational Plan for the removal of illegal structures such as breakwaters, permanent residential/commercial structures, and the likes in the identified priority coastal greenbelts.

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