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  • An affair is often seen as illicit. But what if Mother Nature is the third party in a fervent love triangle?

    Every Valentine's Day, the city of Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Philippines holds the annual "Love Affair with Nature." In this event, the city sponsors a mass wedding for couples who cannot afford to have a private celebration.

    But there is a catch. The couple must plant a mangrove as part of the city's reforestation programme for the area's and outlying islands' shoreline.

    Mangroves are an important part of the maritime ecosystem in the Philippines. Not only do they sustain shoreline wildlife from land, air and sea, they form a natural protective barrier to the dozens of typhoons the country sees every year.

    But mangroves forests have been cleared in many islands where they are used for firewood. Now, sea level rise is also posing a threat to this ecosystem.

    Urbanisation has also taken its toll. In the capital city of Manila, which saw a damaging storm surge last year, Freedom Island is home to the last patch of mangrove in the city, but it is under threat from reclamation plans.

    In Puerto Princesa, however, they see things otherwise. Since the Love Affair event started in 2003, more than 800,000 mangrove shoots have been planted, giving the area an uncommon green curtain when viewed from sea.
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