08 May 2015

SBMA intensifies ‘climate change’ awareness campaign

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has intensified its grassroots information program to instill awareness of climate change and elicit positive response from communities around the Subic Bay Freeport.

The SBMA Ecology Center conducted a workshop-discussion at Sunset Cove Resort in Barangay Mabayo, a seaside village in Morong, Bataan.

The activity, which was attended by barangay officials, community elders, local police, and residents, was aimed at alleviating global warming from a micro-level point of view by spreading information top-down to make change more possible.

Previously, the SBMA team conducted similar seminars at the seaside community of Mabiga and the upland communities of Tipo, Bangal, and Pastolan in Hermosa, Bataan. These communities serve as buffer areas under the SBMA’s “social fencing” program.

The workshop-discussion tackled climate change adaptation, the importance of mangroves, forest fire prevention, and the SBMA’s social fencing program.

According to Environment Management Specialist Rhea Jane Pescador-Mallari, who explained how climate change affect small vulnerable communities, evident changes in global climate had been proven by tropical storms “Ondoy” and “Yolanda,” which devastated huge areas in the country.

“With global warming melting the polar ice caps, water levels rise and will affect coastal areas,” Mallari said, naming other foreseen problems.

She added that among the solutions suggested is monitoring the “carbon diet,” which is basically reducing the consumption of diverse products such as meat, electricity, and fuel for transportation, which all produce carbon gases that lead to global warming.

Mallari also explained the environmental benefits of planting mangrove trees, as these separate salt water from fresh water, serve as home for fish and shells, and act as natural wind breaks.

“Kung tayo ang dahilan ng problema, tayo din ang solusyon,” Mallari challenged the audience, citing how man has degraded his environment and caused his own problems.

Meanwhile, SBMA deputy fire chief Raul Zapanta gave the audience rudiment knowledge on forest fire prevention, starting off with the basic “fire triangle” of heat, fuel, and oxygen without which fire would not start.

Zapanta said that with Mabayo’s location near a forest, residents must be aware of ways to avoid forest fire. He also discussed how a “fire break” and “fire line” could help to prevent forest fire or stop its spread.

SBMA forester Patrick Escusa also discussed the agency’s social fencing program, a community-based forest management agreement that gives rights to those who are members of the program to stay in the land owned by SBMA.

Escusa explained that the program is for the mutual benefit of the SBMA and upland residents, as the occupants are tasked with guarding and caring for the trees and preventing the entry of illegal loggers and poachers.

The interactive workshop ended with an open forum during which community members were encouraged to speak their mind on the topics at hand and give suggestions.

While some Mabayo residents said that they were not aware of the changes in the local climate, more of the locals agreed that weather patterns have changed.

“Mas mahaba na ang tag-init at tag-ulan,” a local fisherman said. “Hindi na matimpla ang panahon, ‘di tulad nang dati.” (ADP/MPD-SBMA)

[1] SBMA Environment Management Specialist Rhea Jane Pescador-Mallari explains the dangers posed by climate change to residents of small coastal and upland communities, urging them to help protect the environment to avert further damage. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

[2] SBMA Forester Patrick Escusa discusses the SBMA social fencing program, pointing out how upland residents could help guard and care for the forest and prevent the entry of illegal loggers and poachers. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)