REDD+ in the Philippines: Legal status and conservation of mangrove forests in the Philippines
Mangroves perform a crucial role in maintaining the ecological integrity of the coastal ecosystem. They act as filters in the coastal zone, preventing the damaging effects of upland sediments on seagrass beds and coral reefs, minimise the effects of storm surges and act as carbon sinks that mitigate climate change. These essential services, however, are degraded through indiscriminate cutting, conversion of mangrove swamps to fishponds, reclamation projects and other coastal developments and pollution. Experts reveal that the Indo-Malay Philippine Archipelago has one of the highest rates of mangroves loss. From an estimated 500,000 hectares of mangrove cover in 1918, only 120,000 hectares of mangroves remain in the Philippines today.
The country has had the legal and policy framework to protect and conserve mangroves. But weak implementation of laws, overlapping functions among agencies and, in general, poor management by the people and local governments have hindered the sustainable management of mangrove forests.
Positive developments, however, are taking place with the promulgation of laws on climate change and executive orders which specifically include mangrove and protected areas under the National Greening Program (NGP) and addresses equity, food security and poverty issues by giving preference to NGP beneficiary communities as a priority in the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program. Moreover, participatory Planning and Multi-stakeholder Approaches are among the strategies contemplated by the Philippine National REDD + Strategy.
The article examines the implementation and effects of the Philippine National REDD+ Strategy, the National Climate Change Action Plan which specifically integrates REDD+ and ecosystem valuation into decision-making, and the executive orders which support the mainstreaming of the National Greening Program.
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