Inabanga mangrove forests are thick and wide and are part of a broad strip of coastal mangrove swamps and sandy mudflats lying between Tubigon and Buenavista. Mangroves and nipa palms also line the Inabanga River which is 25 kilometers long and seven to ten meters deep.
The wide and deep Inabanga River is rendered more beautiful with the mangrove forests, the nipa palms, the tall coconut palm trees and other vegetation of ferns and thick shrubs. It now plays host to eco-tours wherein guests are treated to sightings of local and migratory birds.
Like its neighboring town Getafe, Inabanga is also an important staging and wintering area for migratory birds. In fact in late April of 1987 (as per report made by John R. Howes and Perla M. Magsalay) small numbers of twelve species of shorebirds were observed between the Inabanga Estuary and Tubigon. Sightings were made of Numenius madagascariensis, Chinese egrets and E. sacra.
In mid-September 1987, sightings of over 4,800 shorebirds of 14 species were recorded along with Dendrocygna arcuata. The most abundant species were Tringa tetanus, T. Nebularia and Calidris ruficollis and Asian Dowitchers.
With the longest and largest river in the province, Inabanga naturally has the largest mangrove area in Bohol; including those mangroves along the coast. Mangrove species are diverse and is dominated by Avicennia officinalis, A. Alba, with some Sonneratia caeseolaris and S. Alba, particularly near the river banks.
The dominant regenerating species is Ceriops tagal with some Rhizophora apiculata and Nypa fruticans. Further inland Avicennia officinalis is dominant, with small patches of Acanthus sp, Acrostichum aureum, Lumnitzera sp and Schyphiflora hydrophyllacea amongst the fish ponds. The principal vegetation in adjacent areas is plantations of Cocos nucifera.
These mangroves are important since they support a natural food chain by forming a link between land and the water estuaries or the sea. They serve as the sanctuary of both aquatic and mammals such as shore birds, monkeys, rats, reptiles and insects. They are critical spawning, nursery, feeding and shelter areas to hundreds of fish species, crustaceans and invertebrates.
The tangled and intricate root systems of mangroves are excellent nurseries since it provides safe hiding places. The leaves and stems give shelter to birds from strong winds and heat of the sun. Also, the muddy waters around the mangroves are rich in nutrients from decaying leaves and organic matter produced by the mangroves themselves and from the sediment that is trapped around the roots.
Mangroves along the river banks serve as physical barriers and help to curtail erosion especially during floods. Along the coast, the mangroves protect the land from onslaught of storms and wave surges. Their crowns, trunks and stems serve as physical barriers that help break the wind and waves reducing their speed and intensity and subsequently their destructive impact.
More so, the mangroves are the source of housing materials, firewood, and charcoal and of poles for fish traps for the people of Inabanga who are below the poverty line. These, and for more reasons, a call for the preservation of the mangroves is apt and should be given top priority to entail continuous supply of wood and food!
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