The Mangrove Eco-Tourism Park “Katunggan It Ibajay” is blooming a booming tourist attraction at Barangays Bugtongbato and Naisud, Ibajay, Aklan.
It beckons an Avatar-like sanctuary with centuries-old gigantic mangrove tress sprawling over the long stretch of bamboo bridge and trails that serve as guide for a wonderful walk in the park with stopovers at mini bamboo-nipa huts.
The nature’s haven is being touted as the only and most diverse natural growth mangrove community in the Philippines and Southeast Asia as confirmed by the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center – Aquaculture Department (SEAFDEC-AQD).
It boasts a total of 28 species of mangroves or 80% of the total 35 Philippine mangrove species with its exotic, giant and century-old “piapi” trees.
The 44.22 hectares mangroves is declared as Mangrove Eco-Tourism Park through the Municipal Ordinance No. 092 in 2009 and launched in Jan. 19, 2010.
The Aklan State University-College of Hospitality and Rural Resource Management (ASU-CHARRM) conducts trainings on eco-tourism and value adding of food products to the tour guides, people’s organization and other stakeholders in the community.
The project is implemented in partnership with Ibajay LGU and the Community-based Mangrove Rehabilitation Project in the Philippines of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
Ilongga mangrove expert and marine scientist Dr. Jurgenne H. Primavera, project manager of ZSL, stressed mangroves can save lives and property from destructive typhoons, filter out silt runoff that kills coral reefs, provide nurseries to juvenile fish and shrimp, and renew fisheries catches.