KASAMA- Mangrove forest
« Plant, plant, plant », the history of a man-made mangrove forest
We know about deforestation, a little about reforestation, but what about « forestation » ?
Today we want to present you the initiatives of Sir Allen Quimpo, former mayor of Kalibo. In 1989, he decided to plant a mangrove forest on the city land, to avoid buildings on the front beach and to generate revenues for the community: the Kalibo Save the Mangroves Association (KASAMA) was born. With a financial help from national organizations such as the DENR and international ones, 250 000 mangroves were planted in 1989 and since that time, mangroves have continuously been planted. The result today is impressive: the forest covers about 200 hectares (more than 1,6 million mangroves) and 19 different species of mangroves can be seen. The question is, why are mangroves so helpful?
Mangroves have several interesting properties. Firstly, they reduce the impact of typhoons and tsunamis by creating a natural barrier. Secondly, they have the same advantages as a normal forest: they capture CO2 and provide oxygen. Thirdly, they supply a reservoir for biodiversity. More and more species are being found in Kalibo: birds, butterflies, snakes, moths…
However, the most important thing for Sir Allen is the profits for the local community: the selling of shells, crabs and fishes taken from the mangrove generate additional incomes for households. Moreover, a lot of employment has been created with the planting activities financed by companies, international and national organizations.
Now let’s talk about our main interest: tourism. Sir Allen’s will was to keep this project away from politic, and he left the management of KASAMA to the NGO USWAG Development Foundation and to the local community itself. The success of the mangrove forest makes it interesting for tourist visitors and the community is now in charge of the tourism activities. A bamboo walk has been made to walk through the forest and its maintenance is financed by the 20 pesos of entrance fees. Guards, guides, planters, all come from the community. If you haven’t yet visited the place , you should, it’s a real paradise which seems far from the city!
The project received many awards along the years, among which one from the United Nations in 2005. Furthermore, a lot of environmentalists and researchers from all over the world are coming to the mangrove forest to discover this innovative project and its rich biodiversity.
The KASAMA project wants to go even further. Because mangroves avoid soil erosion, new portions of land are permanently reclaimed and for any new land appearing, KASAMA plants (for now, 2 kilometers of land have been reclaimed). Besides, there are now similar projects in the region, and Sir Allen is now the president of the Community-based management of the forests association in Region VI (158 members).
From this interview, we will remember the great initiative and determination of Sir Allen and of the KASAMA members, and the idea that if you don’t have natural resources, you can just create them!