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The study describes the floristic diversity of Lower Agusan river as basis in enhancing riparian vegetation as buffer zone to reduce flash flood impacts. A survey was conducted in the 5-kilometer easement of the river to determine existing floristic composition and soil characteristics using transect and quadrat method. Results showed that the vegetation is composed of 105 species of vascular plants belonging to 85 genera and 42 families, with composite Shannon-Weiner diversity index (H') of 1.338 for the entire ecobelt. Despite low diversity index, a number of important floral species are present in the riverbanks wherein six species under threatened status were recorded. The vegetation structures differ in every site covered by the survey. In Pagatpatan, the palm Nipa fruticansis predominant although significant portions are also occupied by dense grass species. The lowest diversity of plant species was in the Banza site because it is already densely populated,. In species richness, the highest species count comprising 63% of the total identified species was recorded in Mahay site. This is followed by Pagatpatan and Banza at 61% and 50%, respectively. The stocking density of the ecobelt area was assessed to be very poor to function ecologically as a riparian buffer, having a mean density of 48 stems per hectare only. This indicated that all areas surveyed were classified to be of high risk, thus immediate rehabilitation is necessary to enhance vegetation cover especially those with low plant diversity status.
Climate Change has resulted to increased periods of high rainfall in the Philippines particularly in northeastern Mindanao, including the Agusan River Basin. This phenomenon is viewed to trigger more frequent and dangerous flooding. Thus there is a need to prepare and become adaptive to these conditions to reduce the disaster to communities especially to poor riverside settlers. Educating and encouraging the local residents to restore the riparian vegetation of Agusan River was done to prevent flash flood and give them time to move to safer grounds. Vegetation serves as buffer that minimizes the flow of water during flooding episodes. In areas where vegetation has been removed due to conversion into ricefields or human settlements, replanting of sago palm (Metroxylon sagu Roettb.) as an ecobelt is strengthened. Lectures on the ecological soundness of riparian vegetation enhancement through sago palm planting in the riverbank of Lower Agusan River basin were given to communities in the riverside to heighten awareness on the role of vegetation. The planting of intercrops such as bamboo and other wetland vegetation is likewise included for the purpose of reducing the flow of water during flooding at the early stages of sago. Aside from serving as buffer to flash flood, the sago palm and the intercrops are promoted as sources of food and livelihood. By using the sago palm, which is native to the wetlands in the Agusan River Basin, replanting the riverbanks and water-logged areas is not difficult. The challenge is how to heighten people’s awareness on the ecological, economic and cultural value of sago. Thus the project advocacy was through community-based approach to give the people information on the capacity of sago palm to provide nature-based solutions in reducing the riverbank’s and the community’s vulnerability due to climate change. Local initiatives and community actions are recognized as essential in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Keywords: sago ecobelt; climate change; disaster risk reduction; riverbank protection, adaptive capacity