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LEAP Forum 2018 focused on science and policies for a sustainable Laguna Lake

sen villa cong aragonesSenator Cynthia Villar (left) and Congresswoman Sol Aragones (right) during UPLB's LEAP Forum.

The School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) hosted the 2nd Lake Ecosystem Assessment in the Philippines (LEAP) at the REDREC Building, College of Economics and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños, April 17, 2018. The forum is under the UP System’s Emerging Interdisciplinary Research (EIDR) and Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquaculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development-Department of Science and Technology (PCAARRD-DOST) co-funded LEAP program entitled, “Ten Years after the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Towards a Sustainable Future”.

This forum was aimed to draft a set of science-based multi-sectoral policy recommendation pertaining to Laguna de Bay’s rehabilitation, protection and management. This one-day event is also a dialogue with legislators and major stakeholders to present critical findings of the study and its policy recommendations.

Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Chancellor, UPLB, expressed his gratitude for the participation of the different Laguna Lake stakeholders. Meanwhile, Dr. Decibel F. Eslava, Dean of SESAM, highlighted the accomplishments of the program, especially the flood and landslide hazard assessment of the lake and lakeshore communities.

Representative Marisol "Sol" Aragones (3rd District, Laguna), Chairperson of the House Committee on Population and Family Relations, stressed that since Laguna Lake is very useful for many communities, its conservation is a primary concern. Rep. Aragones, a BS Development Communication graduate of UPLB, said that teamwork is very important, as she noted that scientists, legislators and environmentalists can’t do the job alone, and the protection of Laguna Lake should be a collective effort of all sectors. She mentioned also that congress will already act on this concern. “We hope by the opening of the next congressional session, we can start crafting a new law to better protect Laguna de Bay”, she added.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson on both Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food, and Environment and Natural Resources, reiterated that all of must contribute in the protection of Laguna Lake. “In order for the community to be cooperative, we must make them also a stakeholder, so that they will be more involved in the program”, Sen. Villar said. She mentioned the Laguna Lake program could mirror the success of the “Sagip-Ilog” Program of Las Piñas River, a program started by the Villar Foundation 15 years ago and was awarded by the United Nations as one of the Best Water Management Practices program.

Senator Villar, also a UP alumnus, said the Senate of the Philippines is working very hard to protect our environment. “I am very pleased to announce that the Senate and the House already passed the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act, with 94 new protected areas, this will add to the previous 13 areas, and now we have a total of 107 protected areas”, she said.

Also delivering their respective keynote responses were Atty. Dulce Rebanal, Provincial Administrator, representing Laguna Governor Ramil L. Hernandez; Hon. Jaime C. Medina, General Manager, Laguna Lake Development Authority; and Hon. Ceasar P. Perez, Municipal Mayor, Los Baños.

The study leaders of the LEAP program presented their respective project results during the technical forum, which had six sessions, namely: “geophysical baselines” by Dr. Noelynna T. Ramos, Assistant Professor, National Institute of Geological Sciences, UP Diliman; “changes in lake water and sediment composition” by Dr. Eslava; “land-use cover and watershed” by Dr. Nathaniel C. Bantayan, Professor, College of Forestry and Natural Resources, UPLB; “socio-ecological system assessment” by Dr. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon, Professor, SESAM-UPLB; “sewage treatment plant” by Dr. Marisa J. Sobremisana, SESAM-UPLB; and “Laguna de Bay as viewed from space” by Dr. Gay Jane P. Perez, Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology, UP Diliman.

More than 100 participants representing different Laguna Lake stakeholders attended this one-day science and policy forum for a sustainable Laguna de bay Management.