Planting mangroves in Tambobo

 In Fieldwork, Mangroves

What better way to experience mangroves than to actually stick your feet into the nutrient-rich mud and plant a mangrove sapling!

On the 25th of January, I met Evelyn, one of the members of PAPSIMCO (Palayuhan, Palimpinon, and Siit Multipurpose Cooperative), to strategize with her where to plant the ready mangrove saplings in Tambobo Bay. PAPSIMCO is one of the people’s associations in the Municipality of Siaton that MCP has been collaborating with in different projects including mangrove restoration.

Mangroves are salt-water loving trees and they are a vital ecosystem for conservation in the Philippines. If you have read our previous blogs about mangroves, these salt-water loving plants are actually very efficient in trapping sediment from upland before it reaches the sea. They are also home to important juvenile fishes such as snappers and parrotfishes. Aside from its role in helping corals survive and as fish nursery, they are important for the local community in Tambobo Bay because these trees protect them from strong waves during typhoon season. The mangrove forest in Tambobo Bay has approximately 23 species including the landward mangroves. Yet the mangrove nursery only contained three species because we only started the project last year.

Evelyn and I decided that the most efficient way we thought was to put different colored flags in the area to indicate where the volunteers and the local community should plant the seedlings. And so, we prep

ared bamboo sticks and long tree branches and ripped green and red colored cloths to tie to each stick. We basically measured 30-meter and a 10-meter line since we will be planting 300 mangrove saplings with a space of 1 meter bet

ween each other. Each meter in the line has a cloth that we tied to guide in the spacing. The red cloth indicate the mangrove saplings Sonneratia alba or locally known as “Pagatpat”. While the green cloth mean the mangrove is Avicennia officinalis or locally known as “Bungalon”. These two species can withstand strong winds, waves and salt water as they have adaptations to survive in this harsh environment. 

The walk from the PAPSIMCO groups building to the area to be rehabilitated is only about 200 meters. However, if you know mangrove forests, you perhaps also know that there are sharp gastropods that live below the mud and could cut your feet, so all volunteers would have to wear heavy soled dive boots. Finally, we reached the perfect area—close to the mangrove forest as possible, and in mud that is ankle deep. Evelyn and I placed the sticks with flags in four corners and tied the rope between the flags. It looked like it was setup for some sort of race!

Finally the day came, and we would bring the troops!

We arrived at 8:30 in the morning as the lowest tide reported was at 8:52. We had time to do a short briefing together and group ourselves into two teams. One team went out and started digging and the other team brought in the mangrove saplings from the nursery. There was a little waiting for the digging team since we had a difficult time walking back and forth (200m in ankle deep mud remember) bringing the mangrove saplings for them to plant. So we changed the dynamics, instead of going back and forth, we started to make a long line and pass one mangrove sapling to the other like ants following pheromones.

The MCP volunteers went through an amazing race against the tide to plant 240 mangrove saplings out of the goal of 300 saplings with the help of the local science high school students and members of PAPSIMCO.

I wouldn’t say it was easy, as every step you take in the mud is a trap for the next person f

Two hands forming the MCP logo

ollowing you. The more people that walk in the path you take, the deeper you go. Thus, the saying by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Don’t go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” This might be good to know prior to mangrove planting.

We hope for these babies to survive the test of time. More updates on this in the coming months.

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