House bill seeks
establishment of coastal greenbelts
MANILA, Nov. 2 (PNA) -- A bill in the House of Representatives pushes
for the establishment of greenbelts of mangroves and beach forests along
coastlines to effectively mitigate the damaging impacts of waves and storm
Rep. Rodel M. Batocabe (Party-list, Ako Bicol) filed House Bill 5948,
otherwise known as the “National Coastal Greenbelt Act of 2015,” which seeks
to create the National Coastal Greenbelt Program.
Coastal greenbelt, as defined under the bill, is a strip of natural or
planted coastal vegetation, stretching at least 100 meters in width from the
sea towards land, primarily of mangrove and beach forest species, which are
designed to prevent coastal erosion and mitigate the adverse impacts of
natural coastal hazards on human lives and property.
Batocabe, chairman of the House Special Committee on Climate Change, said
establishing the National Coastal Greenbelt Program shall provide the
Climate Change Commission the directives, funding and general guiding
principles for implementing a science-based and cost effective program.
“The proposed National Coastal Greenbelt Program mandates the establishment
of 100-meter protection zones, initially for the Eastern Pacific seaboard,
where typhoons make landfall,” he said.
Batocabe, in his explanatory note, said the Philippines, as shown in the
World Bank reports, ranks 8th among countries most exposed to multiple
hazards and ranks 13th at high economic risk to natural events.
He said damages to the agriculture and infrastructure sectors alone reached
USD500 million in the past two decades, equivalent to 0.5 percent of the
gross domestic product (GDP).
“In 2009, the losses caused by Typhoons Ondoy (Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma)
amounted to some USD4.4 billion, or 2.7 percent of GDP,” he said.
Batocabe said the damages that super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) brought when
it hit Eastern Visayas in 2013 were massive, making millions of Filipinos
homeless and without means of livelihood.
He said much of the losses from typhoons are brought by storm surges and
strong winds coming from the open sea.
“In the age of global climate change, this has unfortunately become the new
normal. The poor coastal communities’ natural exposure to storm surges and
lack of resources for preparation and recovery make them most vulnerable,”
The party-list solon said as scientifically proven, coastal greenbelts can
reduce wave wind height and swell waves by 13-66 percent over 100 meters of
“Coastal greenbelts can reduce surface wind waves by more than 75 percent
over one kilometer of mangroves,” Batocabe said.
He further said that coastal forests could reduce the force, depth and
velocity of a tsunami, lessening damage to property and reducing loss of
According to the party-list solon, coastal greenbelts are also
cost-effective for disaster preparedness in the long term.
“The total valuation of mangroves is estimated at USD14,000-16,000 per
hectare, of which about 80 percent is for coastal protection value,” he
Batocabe added 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.
Under Batocabe's proposal, each coastal municipality and city in the
identified priority coastal greenbelt areas in the Action Plan shall prepare
a Local Coastal Greenbelt Action plan (LCGGAP) to facilitate the
implementation of mandated actions in the NCGAP.
The solon emphasized that 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. (PNA)