5 in 1: the First Living Dangerously Webinar for 2021

Not one, but five issues were tackled during the first Living Dangerously Series Webinar last March 29, 2021, presented by the Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD) of the School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños (SESAM-UPLB). Living Dangerously is a webinar series that tackles issues that continuously hound our environment. Five experts tackled various topics such as mangroves, biodiversity, geology, social sciences and marine ecosystems. 

The first speaker, Mr. Mario A. Cudiamat, is a mangrove specialist and Marine Protected Area (MPA) adviser of Calatagan Mangrove Forest Conservation Park (CMFCP), a community-based marine protected area in Calatagan, Batangas. His study entitled “Mangroves in the Philippines, Responding to Change”, stressed that Building resilience in socio-ecological system such as the case of community-based conservation requires an integrated understanding of the different dimensions of development such as socio-economic, institutional and ecological aspects.

Mr. Cudiamat, who is taking PhD in Biology specializing in Mangrove Ecology and Conservation at De La Salle University-Dasmariňas, mentioned that the peoples’ lack of knowledge in ecological dimension, hampers the mangrove rehabilitation. “If we would like to solve problems in the marine ecosystems, we must also address the issues in the terrestrial areas, such as garbage, agricultural run-offs and the sharing of knowledge to communities”, he added.

The second speaker, Dr. Christine Casal, presented her study entitled “Predicting Loss of Marine Species Using Biodiversity Information Systems”. Dr. Casal, who is currently Project Officer of the Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate the Agriculture as an Industry (Project SARAI), was PhD in Environmental Science graduate in 2007. Formerly with FishBase Information and Research Group ,Inc. (FIN), Dr. Casal was involved in the SmartSeas Project which aimed to create a checklist of species for the marine key biodiversity areas to document biodiversity in Verde Island Passage, Lanuza Bay, Tanon Strait, Davao Gulf and Southern Palawan. 

Dr. Casal added that the main issue was the scattered, often inaccessible and expensive information sources for marine biodiversity. However, she was able to teach many communities especially the fisherfolks “We always remind fishermen to harvest fish which already reached maturity to sustain the population of the species” said Dr. Casal. 

For his part, Dr. Juan Miguel Guotana, who recently obtained his PhD in Earth Science from Kanazawa University in Japan, discussed his study entitled “Carbon mineralization in ultramafic rocks: possibility of geological CO2 storage”. In his presentation, he mentioned the global carbon cycle affects the warming of the atmosphere, which should be limited to 2oC, but preferably at 1.5oC, (UNFCCC, 2015). His study suggested the removal of CO2  from the air by increasing carbon storage in soils and biomass; direct air capture using synthetic sorbents; and carbon mineralization vis enhanced weathering. 

He mentioned that this could be possibly done in the country, by collaborating with geothermal companies or at mine sites, in conducting experiments using drills. He added that using adsorbent material to capture carbon, is not economically feasible for large scale industrial application, since it uses turbines which consumes a lot of energy.

The fourth speaker, Mr. Ed Roquino, focused on the nexus of water scarcity and water security and their socio-natural production and political ecology. Mr. Roquino, who is taking PhD in Environmental Science, presented his research entitled “Rethinking water-society relationship through the hydro-social lens”. He said hydro-social framing can determine the true value and price of water resources by ethnography– looking at the inter-connectedness of water and the ecosystem. 

 “We have to look at the agency of water- the intent of water. Water transform one phase to another… it can give life, It can be destructive, thus we must recognize all these framing of water.”, Mr. Roquino stressed.

The last speaker, Dr. Sheila Vergara, a marine ecologist and a graduate of PhD Environmental Science and Management, focused her research on coastal resources management, as indicated on her presentation entitled “Business as usual is risky business: the case of marine conservation in the ASEAN region”. 

Dr. Vergara, who is currently the Director of the Biodiversity Information Management of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), said that using management effectiveness tools, depending on your sources and accessible data, can help develop tools for the capacity effectiveness of MPAs. “These management tools are flexible, you can track outcomes of the criteria, some data are more technical, while some are socio-economic” she added. 

More than 100 participants attended this first Living Dangerously Webinar Series for 2021, as SESAM looks forward to inviting more speakers to discuss burning issues about the environment in the coming months.