It’s early May on the Island of Catanduanes, off the east coast of the Philippines. A group of people dressed in shorts and sunglasses are wading ankle-deep along a muddy shoreline. They stop to inspect what appear to be sticks thrust into the mud and then engage in heated debate.

Neither locals, nor tourists, the casually dressed group of women and men are actually members of the Philippines House of Representatives on a factfinding mission.

Congresswoman Susan Yap chairs the Philippine government’s Reforestation Committee, and she is here with Congressmen Sarmiento and Yu to find out what progress is being made to replant and rehabilitate the island’s mangroves and forests to create a green buffer against an increasing number of damaging typhoons and the growing impacts of climate change.

The mangrove and forest rehabilitation projects on Catanduanes are part of a massive government legislative programme in the Philippines which aims to plant 5 billion trees over 5 million hectares. It fits into a growing trend of national environmental legislation to counter international environmental threats.

Congresswoman Yap is also the Philippine representative of GLOBE, an international network of parliamentarians committed to sustainable development. She recognises the need for national legislators to reach out and network internationally as a way to improve the drafting and implementation of domestic laws on climate and natural resources.

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