Butuan and History
We purchased a book from Greg Hontiveros, president of the Butuan Historical and Cultural Preservation Society, Butuan of 1000 years. It is a well written compilation of researches about Butuan's rich history. We found it at the vastly improved Butuan City Library, in the Butuan study room. Butuan was chronicled in Chinese texts from the Sung Dynasty, documenting trade between the Champa Empire and Butuan. Butuan is well known for gold work, dating perhaps to 1000BC. A second historical landmark, a source of pride for Butuanons, is Mazawa, the putative site of Magellan's first mass on Philippine soil. Well, there is another camp supporting Limasawa Island, but this is currently a hot issue for Butuanons, who claim research lately provides increasing support for the Mazawa site. We visited Mazawa on our last trip, but mainly to visit shrimp pond.
Mangrove devastation since 1950s
Shrimp farming has experienced a decline since our last visit in 2004: a bacterial infection has resulted in closing of at least some ponds. I have learned of a Butuanon mangrove expert who is recommending the replanting of mangroves, on the basis of the position that shrimp ponds where mangroves have been left significantly intact nearby have been producing better in Asia than those, like the ones here in Butuan, where Mangroves were cleared. Maps from 1959 or so show extensive mangroves near Mazawa, where we saw only shrimp and fish farms. I noted a massive patch of rectangles (farms/ponds) when I landed in Butuan in 2004, leading to our exploration of the coast. Hopefully the replaning efforts will bring back some of the mangrove functions.
I remember, however, that mangrove peat can be hundreds or thousands of years in development, and I wonder how one might expect replanted trees to generate a fully functioning mangrove community. Mangrove trees, at least of some species, are notoriously difficult to extablish by replanting, as demonstrated in Fiji some years ago. However, I hope that recently such efforts have been more successful, for the sake of the Butuan and other Philippine mangrove replanting projects.