Protection and passion
Communing with Nature is an experience like no other. Positive feelings of serenity, grace, magic, rejuvenation and spiritual upliftment – envelop one’s being all at once.
Being mindful of the colors, the patterns, the shapes of the leaves, trees, clear skies, rivers, oceans and the variety of species of beings that they support, brings a sense of awe, wonder and unity and affirmation that we, humans, are an integral part of all that is taking place before our eyes.
In Japan, the practice called “shinrin-yoku – literally, forest bath – has the power to counter illnesses including cancer, strokes, gastric ulcers, depression, anxiety and stress.”
A study in 2018 shows “exposure to greenspace reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. Populations with higher levels of greenspace exposure are also more likely to report good overall health” — according to global data involving more than 290 million people.
Yes, we are very much part of nature and that sense of duty to protect our natural life support system surges forward every time one sees Nature’s manifestations of beauty, diversity and vibrancy.
Who else, but humans, can and must protect them from the relentless greed, plunder and slaughter and arrogance that comes every time they are destroyed? In our detachment, we have come to believe that we can still exist when all the species of flora and fauna are dissipated.
It is a privilege to have been able to see mangroves forests with old-growth trees in Katungan It Ibahay in Ibahay, Aklan and a rehabilitated thriving mangroves ecosystem in Leganes, Iloilo the past week, thanks to the passionate protectors behind these programs.
The Katungan eco park has one of the most diverse, old-growth mangrove forest areas in the country. It hosts 27 out of 35 species of mangroves including the centuries old mangrove, dubbed as the biggest in Asia. Agents of change include Dr. Jurgenne Primavera, the passionate defender of mangroves and honored as one of Time magazine’s Heroes of the Environment for 2008 for her research in mangrove ecosystem conservation, Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center and the Zoological Society of London who were able to persuade the decision-makers and the community to officially declare the site as a Mangrove Eco-tourism Park. It is now a prime eco-tourism destination, with support from the National Tourism Authority and has brought in livelihood opportunities for the community members.
The Leganes Katunggan Eco-Park was transformed from being an abandoned and unutilized fishpond as a good model of community-based mangroves rehabilitation program.
Wilson Batislaon, municipal environment and natural resource officer (Menro) of Leganes, is a passionate champion for mangroves restoration, together with the officials of the municipality and the province of Iloilo and the support of ZSL and Dr. Primavera. The marine wildlife has returned and with it, the fisheries and thriving livelihoods of the residents.
Kudos to the courageous defenders of Nature!
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