SESAM ExChanges tackles Land and Water in EIA

The School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines (SESAM-UPLB) held its second ExChanges Webinar in November 29, 2021 via online conferencing. With the theme “Land and Water in Relation to Environmental Impact Assessment”, the second ExChanges was organized by the Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD).

In his opening message, Dr. Ancog, SESAM Dean, emphasized the application of different frameworks of analysis to assess the different environmental components (Land, Air, Water, and People) that the field of environmental science is championing. He also stressed the importance of impact assessment to comprehensively evaluate the various environmental and social impacts arising from development projects.

For. Sofia A. Alaira, head of CETD, introduced the prominent and hard-working members of the division, including their annual and future programs and trainings. She also highlighted the significant contribution of CETD in terms of capacitating the different stakeholders, especially the Local Government Units (LGUs) in formulating their Local Development Plans such as Environmental Code, Forest Land Use Plan and Climate and Disaster Risks Assessment).

The first lecture from Assistant Secretary Roderick M. Planta of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) discussed about Revisiting the National Water Security Roadmap. He mentioned the UN definition of “water security”, as the capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water for sustaining economic development, quality of life, and ecosystems conservation. His presentation was also focused on the formulation of the Natural Water Security Roadmap based on 6 thematic areas namely, economic (water supply), environment (water supply), domestic (water supply), municipal water (water supply), resilience, and governance. Based on these considerations, NEDA identified the threats to water security in the Philippines brought by increasing population, economic growth, and climate crisis as well as the multi-stakeholder initiatives that enhances our water security in the Philippines.

Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Professor at UPLB-SESAM, introduced the mandate and structure of UPLB-Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Water as well as their VMGOs and working framework for attaining water security in the entire country. Dr. Sanchez’s presentation was focused mainly on the concept and principles of the integrated water resources management (IWRM). She discussed the importance of integrating the IWRM Framework in managing our ecological systems from ridge to reef. Dr. Sanchez also presented solutions and recommendations for the formulation of the Philippine Water Security Road Map. These are hastening water-related infra development, long-term watershed monitoring, and strategic planning for water resources management.

Dr. Myra Villareal, Associate Professor in the University of Tsukuba discussed the University’s SUSTEP Program, focusing on Water and disaster, Biodiversity conservation, waste management, and policy planning. Her lecture focused on the utilization of functional bioresources in North Africa and the Maghreb region which included several countries such as Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. She discussed the region’s topography and climatic conditions including the environmental stress and adaptation mechanisms perceived by various flora species due to lack/unavailability of water, high temperature, and ion concentration. Dr. Villareal also highlighted that, plants in arid regions adapt by producing antioxidants which can be a potential therapeutic for oxidative-stress-associated diseases such as cancer, inflammation, and hyperpigmentation among others.

More than 100 participants via Zoom and Facebook livestream attended the event. SESAM ExChanges is a seminar series on Environmental Challenges and Solutions. (ENTCando and TPLawas)

Los Baños MENRO Visits UPLB-SESAM for Development Plans and Extension Works Collaboration

The Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office of Los Baños, represented by Ms. Lizette Cardenas and Dr. Antonio J. Alcantara, Former SESAM Dean and Professor, visited the UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (UPLB-SESAM) on 16 November 2021 to meet Dean Rico C. Ancog and the Research and Extension Division representatives and Professors, Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez and Dr. Jessica D. Villanueva-Peyraube, and Continuing Education and Training Division Head, For. Sofia A. Alaira.

Technical assistance to development plans and training activities for the municipality are some of the possible undertakings between SESAM and LGU. In this meeting, they discussed the areas of collaboration and the specific roles of SESAM in crafting and/or updating the environmental plans and programs of the Municipality. 

Included in these endeavors are identification of potential Water Quality Management Areas (WQMAs) for Makiling Watershed through membership in committee and action planning; assistance in technical writing of Enhanced Local Climate Change Action Plan (e-LCCAP) for 2021-2022; finalization of Solid Waste Management Plan (SWPM); assistance to Waste Analysis Characterization Study (WAQS); and finalization of Environmental Code (e-Code). 

Highlighted also in the meeting is the drafting of ordinance to institutionalize MENRO, which is the core foundation in ensuring proper management and implementation of ecosystem and environmental plans and programs in Los Baños. 
These undertakings are targeted to be implemented in the 1st up to 3rd quarter of 2022. Banking on the SESAM Sails (Sustainability and Accelerated Innovation in Learning and Solutions) vision of Dean Rico Ancog and in accordance with future-proofing UPLB, the School is hopeful to extend help in the municipality of Los Baños towards environmental sustainability and nation-building through partnership and collaboration.  (Jessa O. Aquino)

HyDEPP-SATREPS holds the 1st Joint Coordination Committee Meeting

The UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Water project entitled Development of a Hybrid Water-Related Disaster Risk Assessment Technology for Sustainable Local Economic Development Policy under Climate Change in the Philippines (HyDEPP-SATREPS) held its 1st Joint Coordinating Committee Meeting on 17 November 2021 via online conferencing.

This event served as an avenue to review and present the project progress. Part also of the meeting was the discussion of challenges encountered by the parties and upcoming plans. This meeting was attended by 54 participants coming from several agencies and offices, composed of JCC members from the project management team, sub-group leaders, and cooperating agencies. The project group members also attended and served as observers during the meeting. Present from the project management team were Dr. Toshio Koike, Executive Director and Mr. Hiroyuki Ito, Deputy Director. 

Ms. Ohshima Ayumu, Senior Representative of JICA Philippines officially opened the program wherein she highlighted the need for structural and non-structural measures in response to climate change implications. She assured that JICA will continue to support disaster risk reduction in the country. 

The highlight of the meeting was the presentation of sub-group accomplishments and future plans. Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., Project Director from the Philippines, provided the overview and summary of the project outputs. He mentioned that setting directions for the remaining years is the main reason for the meeting.

The project comprises 4 sub-groups or components namely: data collection and sharing, flood and drought risk assessment, resilience assessment, and economic scenario and policy recommendations. For their part, Dr. Roger A. Luyun, Jr. and Dr. Masaki Yasikawa presented the research plans on data collection, data management system through Data Integration and Analysis System (DIAS), data processing, and flood early warning system. Updates on the server room located in UPLB Knowledge Hub were also mentioned. 

Dr. Aurelio Delos Reyes, Jr. and Dr. Mohamed Ramsy Adbul Wahid, sub-group 2 leaders, presented the newly added members of their group. They presented the outputs in simulation of the inundation area during Typhoon Ulysses and some technical aspects of their study.

For resilience assessment, Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez and Dr. Miho Ohara highlighted their efforts through interviews, and analysis of resilience data in affected areas of  Typhoon Ulysses. The end-to-end framework approach in relation to resilience was also emphasized. Dr. Ohara presented lake studies as the newly added component of their group and some in-house training being conducted in Japan, which is also planned to be conducted in the Philippines. 

Economic scenarios and governance components were discussed by Dr. Ma. Angeles O. Catelo, Dr. Agnes C. Rola, and Dr. Muneta Yokamatsu. They also presented the highlights of their survey efforts for the Typhoon Ulysses which include flood prevalence and intensity and agricultural and social damages. Part of the presentation is the need for initial institutional analysis-local governance of plans, programs, ordinance and concerns related to disaster risk reduction and management in the city/municipality. Lastly, they discussed the technical results of test rubs of Monte-Carlo simulations and the methodological framework of their study. 

The cooperating agencies, namely Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services (PAGASA), JICA Philippines, and Japan Science and Technology (JST), actively participated during the open forum. 

The project team is hopeful that all the projects plans and efforts will be materialized and collaboration in research activities will be fostered. 

SARAi e.skwela brings info-caravan to Bicol Region

Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines (Project SARAi), in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology Regional Office V and the Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSTC) in the Provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, and Camarines Norte, conducted a series of two-day, face-to-face training entitled “Provincial Training of Agriculturists on Selected SARAi-Developed Technologies in the Bicol Region”. The series of trainings were conducted in the provinces of Albay (November 22-23, 2021), Camarines Sur (November 24-25, 2021), and Camarines Norte (December 2-3, 2021). 

The project teams of SARAi from University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and Bicol University (BU) joined forces to facilitate this information caravan on rice pests and diseases, proper nutrient management, use of the Smarter Pest Identification Technology (SPIDTECH) mobile application for Android, as well as soil testing & soil sampling techniques. 

The Province of Albay was the first stop for this series of trainings were agriculturists and agricultural technicians from different municipalities of Albay attended the training held on November 22 at Bicol Food Delights, Barriada, Legazpi City. PSTC Albay Director, Engr. Jacinto Alexis B. Elegado, who is also the head of this activity, welcomed the participants from Albay. Ms. Rosemarie Laila D. Areglado, UPLB-SESAM researcher and SARAi Project Staff introduced Project SARAi and gave an overview of the two-day event. Mr. Carl Vincent Gapasin, a former researcher for the Integrated Pest and Diseases Advisory System component of SARAi, served as one of the physically present experts for the lecture on rice diseases and SPIDTECH. On the other hand, virtually present experts in the training via Zoom were Ms. Kim Nyka Perdiguerra, researcher at the UPLB College of Agriculture and Food Science (CAFS), gave lectures on rice nutrient management; Ms. Joana Rose Vergara, Ms. Joy Eloiza Rosales, and Ms. Michelle Ann Bunquin (also from UPLB-CAFS) presented soil management techniques and supervised the hands-on training on the use of soil test kits. As an additional information, Ms. Karen Conda from the SARAi-BU gave a lecture on the use of automatic weather stations (AWS) and its applications in smart agriculture.

On the following day, November 23, the participants headed to a rice field in Rawis, Legazpi to identify specific pests or diseases present in the field using SPIDTECH. Afterwards, the trainees headed to Brgy. Estancia in Malinao, Albay to conduct soil sampling in an agricultural field site.

Using the same blended learning set-up in Albay, the training series carried over on November 25 with the participation of agriculturists from various municipalities of Camarines Sur. The training was held at Naga Pilgrims Hotel, Magsaysay, Naga City for the lectures. Also present in the training was the team from PSTC Camarines Sur headed by Director Patrocinio N. FelizmeniOn November 26, the participants also conducted a field visit to a rice farm area in Minalabac, Camarines Sur to test the capabilities of the SPIDTECH mobile app and conduct soil sampling.

The last leg of the provincial training, scheduled on December 2 and 3, is catered for agriculturists in Camarines Norte. This training is also patterned from the completed sessions in Albay and Camarines Sur. For this session, Ms. Marilou Belgado, a representative from PSTC Camarines Norte welcomed the participants.DOST Region V Regional Director, Mr. Rommel R. Serrano graced these series of activities and welcomed the guests and participants. RD Serrano emphasized his hope that the technologies presented will be utilized by the participants to help our agricultural sector. Also present and facilitated these events are representatives from PSTC Albay, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte. (Klarenz A. Hourani, Jose Mari C. Lit, Maria Regina V. Regalado, and Rosemarie Laila D. Areglado)