By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
LIMITED job opportunities and lack of alternative livelihood among many of the residents in Baranggay Larap, Jose Panganiban, CamNorte, led to the cutting of mangrove trees for commercial charcoal and the operation of small-scale mining in the nearby mangrove areas.
The primary causes of the problem are illegal fishing activities, which depleted marine resources in
, a major source of livelihood for the many residents in Larap, and the non-prioritization of villagers to job hiring for lack of employable skill. Mambulao Bay
These two major issues were revealed by a research-study group that came to Larap in October and December 2012 to find out how the community’s heavily deforested mangrove areas could be rehabilitated and the former mine camp reforested.
The findings of the research-study will become the basis of a proposed major project to rehabilitate Larap’s deforested mangrove areas and to reforest the mined out sites in the community.
Led by Teodoro Licarte, an environmentalist, the group was funded by a grant from Rufford Small Grants Foundation, with scientific assistance from Prof Pastor L Malabrigo, Jr, who acted as the project team biologist.
Alongside the research-study, the team conducted workshops on environmental awareness involving Larap residents and community leaders.
During workshop discussions, it was revealed that the mangrove forests had been the source of livelihood for many of the residents as it supplied wood materials for making charcoal, which is sold in town.
Illegal fishing through dynamite blasting had damaged much of the coral habitat in Larap’s coastal waters where abundant fish used to thrive.
As a result, local subsistence fishermen caught lesser volume of fish to sell in the local market.
To supplement income, they engaged in charcoal making.
Residents said there had been no alternative livelihood for many of the residents.
Likewise, many of their youths had a hard time finding jobs as they did not have employable skills, the residents said.
The residents said they were aware of the skills training center in Larap but the youth have yet to find out if they were qualified to enroll.
The local government of Jose Panganiban which set up the Gov Roy Padilla Sr Training Center in Larap said the facility was aimed at catering mostly for the out-of-school youth in the community.
Larap, which is the biggest depressed area in Mambulao where job opportunities are almost nil, has many people just doing odd jobs for survival.
It has the second biggest number of population in Mambulao after Parang.
The community was host to the once-prosperous iron mines operated by the Philippine Iron Mines (PIM).
However, when operations became unprofitable during the 1970s, PIM folded up and abandoned the mining camp, leaving hundreds of families who were dependent on the mine operations without sustainable source of income.