A large mangrove forest in Arteche, Eastern Samar is set to be transformed into an ecotourism site after the PHP20-million funding for the project was approved by the Tourism Infrastructure Zone Authority (TIEZA).
In an interview on Thursday, Arteche Mayor Roland Evardone said a big chunk of the budget will be used to build a 700-meter boardwalk within the 169-hectare mangrove area in the coastal village of Beri.
The project will start in January and be completed within the year as part of the town’s 10-year local tourism development plan.
“Part of the project is to declare some parts of the mangrove forest as protected areas for different marine species. This is in support of our coastal resource management plan,” Evardone said.
He noted that the mangrove forest in Beri is the largest mangrove forest in Eastern Samar and a natural habitat for different flora and fauna.
Mangrove forests also provide natural infrastructure and protection to nearby populated areas by preventing erosion and absorbing storm surge impacts during extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes or typhoons.
However, the local chief executive said mangroves surrounding the island face the threat of deforestation from illegal loggers.
“(To address this), we will also offer livelihood projects for illegal loggers chopping down mangroves for charcoal and timber for them to become mangrove eco-warriors,” Evardone said.
He said the illegal loggers would be made caretakers of the mangroves, while their wives will be trained to become tour guides.
Arteche is a 3rd-class town with a 58.66 percent poverty incidence. The town has 16,320 population as of 2020. (PNA)