The Panadtaran Mangrove Association or PAMAS was founded way back in 1996 with an initial membership of 40 local inhabitants. It was an offshoot to the local government’s efforts thru its arm, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), to educate the people of Candijay on coastal resource management.
With more coastal resource management projects, the inhabitants of Candijay, especially that of barangay Panadtaran, were heartened to rehabilitate the mangroves. Reforestation and the establishment of mangrove nurseries were initiated. Cutting of the mangroves were controlled. They even ventured into mud crab, oyster and shrimp culture.
Now the group has grown to about 160 members. Their concerted efforts were eventually recognized and they were able to secure a Community Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) from the DENR for 596 hectares. Planting of mangrove seedlings ensue and continue to this day. The group also envisioned the mangrove area to be an eco-tourist site.
In 2001, the Panadtaran area was recognized as an eco-tourist destination with the assistance of the German Development Service, Bohol Tourism Office and the FCB Foundation, Inc. A bamboo-based boardwalk was built around the mangrove forest including a bamboo hanging bridge; signs were put up to identify the different mangrove species in the area.
River cruises were also introduced on Candijay’s rivers Cabadian, Matulid and Sagomay. Guests are serenaded by the community’s best musicians as they wind their way thru the mangrove forest and nipa palm groves.
Visit to the mangroves grew. It seems the chance to observe up close the marine and wildlife habitat, especially that of the different bird species in the area, prompted more eco-groups to try the tour.
The tour is educational and exciting; more so with the river cruise. Visitors are imparted with the knowledge of the importance of mangroves to the eco-system; and how it can be a veritable source of income with proper management. Shrimp, crab and oyster culture plus the income potential of nipa palms are also taught.
How the Association Came About
Candijay’s once thick mangrove forests were dwindling in the early 1990’s due to the following reasons: the indiscriminate cutting of mangrove trees for house building, firewood and to give way to fishponds. The mangroves are the habitat of about 75 percent of fish species, crustaceans and wildlife.
The felling of these mangrove trees led to less and less fish catch by the locals as well as of crustaceans. If no concrete actions are taken, even the 60 species of exotic birds that have made the mangroves their home, will be lost.
This is when the DENR, with foreign aid, came into the picture. A community-based forest management program was initiated to protect the mangroves and other surrounding resources. Education on coastal resource management thru seminars and other information dissemination activities were given.
Candijay heard of coastal management when it was first introduced to the people in 1993 during the implementation of the Rain-fed Resources Development Project of the USAID and the Central Visayas Regional Project I of the World Bank. Other foreign-assisted projects followed. Eventually in 1996, 40 local inhabitants with the intense desire to improve the situation of the mangroves founded the Panadtaran Mangrove Association.