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The Impact of Altering the Watercourse on Riparian Ecosystems Viz-a-Viz the Case in Napti

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By: Raymond Sucgang
Mangrove ecosystems serve as critical pillars for coastal resilience, biodiversity support, and the provision of essential ecosystem services benefiting both the environment and local communities. Their pivotal role in nutrient cycling entails the absorption and recycling of nutrients from water and sediment, thus enhancing coastal water productivity and fostering marine organism growth. Acting as natural filters, mangroves intercept sediments and pollutants from runoff, safeguarding water quality and bolstering the health of marine ecosystems.
These vital habitats harbor a diverse array of plant and animal species, including commercially significant fish and crustaceans, serving as vital nurseries for marine life and bolstering the overall vitality of coastal ecosystems. Furthermore, mangroves act as formidable natural barriers, mitigating the impact of waves and storm surges, thereby shielding coastlines from erosion and minimizing the devastation caused by storms and hurricanes.
In a specific case study focusing on the mangrove everglades near the Napti bridge (Batan, Aklan), alterations in water flow during bridge construction had great consequences. By impounding seawater and redirecting its flow away from the original tributary to a smaller one traversing agricultural areas, the mangroves experienced suffocation due to a mixture of seawater and agricultural runoff. This disruption led to changes in salinity, pH levels, and hydrodynamic pressures, all of which proved detrimental to the mangrove ecosystem’s health.
Presently, an initial assessment based on ocular inspection reveals differences between the mangrove status in 2011 and the present condition. Pictures in the left show the status of the mangroves on 2011. Pictures on the right show the present status. The “before” and “after” pictures are placed side by side (same row) for easy comparison.
As of now I am only showing the status based on occular inspection. To comprehensively evaluate these changes, ongoing laboratory analyses are underway to assess productivity, sediment quality, and water characteristics in 2024, building upon previous measurements taken in 2011. These findings will offer valuable insights into the long-term impacts of altering water courses on mangrove ecosystems, informing future conservation and management strategies.
(Sucgang is a senior researcher of the DOST-PNRI)

 

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