Senator Bam Aquino is pushing for innovative, sustainable and cheaper ways to mitigate devastating impacts of natural disasters and calamities that usually lead to loss of lives, livelihood and income opportunities for businesses.
In his Senate Bill No. 2179 or the National Coastal Greenbelt Act of 2014, Aquino calls for the establishment of 100-meter greenbelts of mangroves and beach forests along coastlines to mitigate the devastating impacts of waves and storm surges.
“The establishment of science-based coastal greenbelts is expected to protect biodiversity, improve fisheries productivity, and enhance the tourism and livelihood potential of the area,” Aquino said.
Aquino made the proposal in the aftermath of super-typhoon Yolanda that killed thousands of people and left billions of pesos in damages in Eastern Visayas, particularly in Leyte.
“Aside from high number of casualties, the super typhoon also caused the shutdown of businesses and loss of jobs and other livelihood in devastated areas,” Aquino said.
The lawmaker stressed that the cost of establishing coastal greenbelts to protect against storm surge and tsunami would only be a fraction of the damages that could be brought by the yearly battering of typhoons.
“The Philippines is battered by more than 20 typhoons a year, with an increasing number in the super-typhoon category,” Aquino said.
“These could bring as much damage as Yolanda, which inflicted an economic loss of more than P500 billion.”
Compared to the cost of destruction brought by typhoons, Aquino said total valuation of mangroves is estimated at US$14,000-16,000 per hectare, of which about 80 percent is for coastal protection value.
Based on scientific studies, Aquino explained that a 100-meter greenbelt of mangroves could reduce wave height of wind and swell waves by 13-66 percent while storm surge can decrease by 5-50 centimeters per kilometer width of mangroves.
Also, surface wind waves can be reduced by more than 75 percent over one kilometer of mangroves while storm surges can be lessened by 50 percent by 7-kilometer band of mangroves.
Aquino added that coastal forests could reduce the force, depth and velocity of a tsunami, lessening damage to property and reducing loss of life.
“We set aside 130 billion pesos in the 2014 budget for the rehabilitation,” Aquino said. “We should definitely set aside in the greening of our coastline.”
The bill also mandates the creation of the National Coastal Greenbelt Program shall provide the agency mandates, funding, and general guiding principles for implementing a science-based and cost-effective program.