Stakeholders here and neighboring areas have planted thousands of mangrove propagules on Sunday in the coastal communities of Sarangani Bay in line with the upcoming 25th anniversary of its declaration as a protected seascape.

Photo: DOLPHINS. Photo shows dolphins that thrive along the 215,950-hectare Sarangani Bay, which is home to various marine mammals and other species. Over 500 biking enthusiasts and local stakeholders joined a massive mangrove planting on Sunday (Feb. 28, 2021) along the bay’s coastal communities to mark the upcoming 25th anniversary of its declaration as a protected seascape. (Photo courtesy of DENR-12)

Ma. Elvira Lumayag, head of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office here, said Monday the massive mangrove planting coincided with the launching of the week-long celebration of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape (SBPS).

Dubbed “bike and plant,” she said over 500 biking enthusiasts braved the sweltering heat to join other stakeholders in planting various species of propagules in mangrove forests in Alabel, Malapatan, and Glan towns.

She said they launched the activity to help bring awareness on the importance of Sarangani Bay to the area and the protection as well as conservation of its ecosystem.

Sarangani Bay, which covers 215,950 hectares, is the only declared protected seascape in Region 12 (Soccsksargen).

“The SBPS is abundant in various species of fish, corals, mangroves, seagrasses, and marine mammals. It is rich in biodiversity so we need to safeguard it,” Lumayag told reporters.

The mangrove planting marked the opening of the SBPS Week 2021, which will run until March 5.

The bay was declared a protected seascape through Presidential Proclamation No. 756 signed on March 5, 1996 by then President Fidel Ramos.

In line with the celebration, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Region 12 opened on Monday an exhibit featuring the SBPS at the city hall lobby here.

Joy Ologuin, SBPS area superintendent, said the exhibit is aimed to showcase various products, programs, and activities of local government units within the Sarangani Bay.

On March 5, the last day of the celebration, she said they will hold a simultaneous coastal clean-up that will be participated in by all 68 coastal barangays within the protected seascape.

Allan Marcilla, head of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, said they will plant this week additional mangrove propagules in the coastal barangays here.

He said the move is also in line with the local government’s continuing expansion and rehabilitation of mangrove forests in the area.

“Mangroves provide huge benefits to our communities, mainly as natural defense to high tides and storm surges and they can also prevent coastal erosion, siltation, and flooding,” he said.

They would also allow various wildlife species and marine life to thrive in the city’s coastal areas, he said. (Richelyn Gubalani, PNA)