SESAM, Peace Corps Conclude Biodiversity Assessment Training

The School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) and Peace Corps Philippines completed a nine-day Capacity Building of Selected Academe, Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) and Local Government Units (LGU) in Biodiversity Conservation at Seda Hotel in Santa Rosa, Laguna on May 11-19, 2022. 

The Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD) of SESAM spearheaded the facilitation of the training, which included fieldworks in Taal Lake with side trip at the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute of the Department of Agriculture, in Makiling Botanic Gardens and in Calatagan, Batangas. 

Thirty-six participants represented the Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology, Southern Leyte State University, Department of Natural Resources-Protected Areas Management Board (DENR-PAMB) from Nueva Ecija, and the local government of the Municipality of Macrohon, Southern Leyte.

Funded by the United States Agency in International Development (USAID), this training aimed to increase the knowledge of the participants on the different research methodologies related to biodiversity conservation; enhance the skills of the faculties of the two state universities in conducting biodiversity conservation researches and its applicability for planning and budgeting of the LGUs; allow the participants to develop a management plan that intends to address the threats to the biodiversity in the Minalungao National Park, Nueva Ecija, as well as the threats to the coastal and marine resources of Panaon Island, Southern Leyte.

Ms. Cherry Rose Montojo, Development Program Specialist of USAID, began with thanking Peace Corps Philippines and SESAM-UPLB for collaborating in this training. She also urged the participants to take advantage of this training in order for them to map out plans for their respective local natural resources.  In his opening message, Mr. Milosil Cruz, Response Program Manager of Peace Corps Philippines, enjoined the trainees to actively participate and always keep in mind the objectives of the training. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Dean of SESAM, introduced SESAM as the institution that champions environmental conservation and management. “We believe in the importance of biodiversity, especially in working with the academic institution”, he added.  In the afternoon, Dr. Ancog set the stage by his lecture on the State-of-the-Art of Biodiversity Assessment: Challenges, Policies, and General Directions. 

The second day of the training highlighted lectures on terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity. Professor Pastor L. Malabrigo, Jr. of the UP Los Baños College of Forestry and Natural Resources (UPLB-CFNR) discussed the biodiversity assessment of terrestrial flora; while Mr. Gil Gabriel S. Villancio of SESAM tackled biodiversity monitoring of terrestrial fauna and focused on arthropods and vertebrates. Dr. Maria Theresa M. Mutia, Chief Science Research Specialist at the Department of Agriculture-National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (DA-NFRDI), lectured on biodiversity assessment of inland aquatic resources, particularly in rivers and lakes.

The lectures during the third day focused on biodiversity assessment of coastal and marine resources and an overview of biodiversity and spatial analysis via Geographic Information System (GIS). Dr. Badi R. Samaniego, Assistant Professor at SESAM, concentrated on corals, while Dr. Hildie Maria E. Nacorda, Associate Professor at SESAM discussed about sea grasses. Dr. Eduardo C. Calzeta, also an Assistant Professor at SESAM, facilitated a hands-on exercise on GIS after his lecture about the software.

The capacity building is an activity of the UPLBSESAM Continuing Education and Training Division for the furtherance of the School’s extension function through two of CETD’s thematic focus areas. One relates to environmental capacity building and technical assistance provided to several clienteles, such as national government agencies, local government units, academe, non-government organizations, private sector, and other stakeholders. The other is on building partnerships, cooperation, and linkages with an aim to promote environmental advocacies and initiatives that could help provide solutions to environmental problems. The five focus areas of CETD form part of the Sustainability and Accelerated Innovation in Learning and Solution (SAILS) Strategic Framework that guides SESAM in the delivery of meaningful instruction, research, extension, and administrative services benefiting the society and the environment.

Learning visit and benchmarking activity of Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA)

The Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) Graduate School headed by its Dean, Dr. Claribelle C. Haber, visited the UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (UPLB-SESAM) on 11 May 2022 for their benchmarking activity in preparation for the implementation of their proposed program on Master of Science in Environmental Science. 

Other delegates from CBSUA who joined include Dr. Rene N. Rabacal, Dr. Gertrudis Girlie C. Jaucian and Mr. Philip M. Talay. The delegation was welcomed by the UPLB-SESAM Dean, Dr. Rico C. Ancog. Joining Dean Ancog are the faculty members, Dr. Jessica Villanueva-Peyraube (Head, Instructions Division), Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez (Head, Research Division), Dr. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon (Chair, UPLB-CDRSC), and Dr. Juan Miguel Guotana. Also present in the event are SESAM researchers, Dr. Yusuf A. Sucol, Ms. Rosemarie Laila D. Areglado, Mr. Julius Angelo Galang (Project-based Researcher) and admin staff under the instructions division, Ms. Ma. Luisa Mendoza, and Mr. Jeran Bunzo. 

A consultation meeting with the delegates was held at SESAM Board Room. As a CHED Center of Excellence in Environmental Science, UPLB-SESAM envisions to replicate its humble beginnings and success and scale these out to different parts of the country. 

“Solving environmental issues is a shared concern”, said Dr. Ancog during his welcome remarks. He is grateful to see CBSUA as one of the institutions pursuing the implementation of higher education in the field of environmental science. In his presentation, Dr. Ancog emphasized the interdisciplinarity of SESAM. According to him, the School teaches a strong foundation in core courses in Environmental Science and ensures that the discipline anchors on an interdisciplinary paradigm in developing its students.

Dr. Peyraube then introduced the roster of faculty members from different fields. She also discussed the MS Environmental Science curriculum of SESAM and mentioned that faculty members are also very active in research.

For her part, Dr. Sanchez explained that SESAM research projects/activities are open to the students for them to join. “We do intensive research”, Dr. Sanchez, stressed. She also enumerated different research laboratories of SESAM which are headed by different faculty members. According to her, these research laboratories are considered “added-values”, an innovation following research practice in Japan and were built to support faculty and students in the conduct of research.

Another service of SESAM presented in the meeting is the Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD) headed by For. Sofia A. Alaira. Through the years, SESAM also led key research centers of the university such as Climate and Disaster Risk Studies Center (CDRSC). As the CDRSC Chair, Dr. Espaldon discussed the vision-mission of the center and its different activities. According to Dr. Espaldon, the center aims to become a world-class research center that provides science-based knowledge for building climate-resilient communities. 

SESAM has also pioneered the creation of the Interdisciplinary Study Center for Water, headed by Dr. Sanchez. This center provides science-based evidence to help address water security challenges of the country, as explained by Dr. Sanchez. 

The CBSUA delegation mentioned that they have faculty members who are graduates of SESAM that also hold high positions in the University. “We hope that with the strong line-up of faculty members, we are capable enough to offer the degree”, said Dr. Haber. 

SESAM Dean, Dr. Ancog reassured the delegates that SESAM is always open and will be very grateful to give any assistance to CBSUA. “We can explore discussing how SESAM can assist CBSUA for the way forward and set up an online meeting with other faculty members of SESAM”, he added. He also invited CBSUA to join in the upcoming Philippine Environmental Science Summit 2022 where several Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) were invited for a roundtable discussion. This event will be a big help to CBSUA to catch some ideas and learnings from other HEIs. 

Dr. Espaldon then emphasized to look deeply into the curriculum. She stressed that CBSUA needs to make sure and show the connection and the difference between the MS Disaster Risk Reduction and Management that CBSUA is already implementing and the proposed MS Environmental Science. Before the delegation bid goodbye, they visited the SESAM Environmental Laboratory and the SESAM Library. (RM Areglado)

Philippine Environmental Science Summit 2022 to kick-off SESAM 25th anniversary celebration

Join us in the upcoming Philippine Environmental Science Summit 2022 on June 7, 8:00AM to 5:00PM as we kick-off the 7-month long celebration of the UPLB-SESAM founding anniversary! With the theme, “Only One Earth: The role of environmental science in achieving Sustainable Development Goals”, we invited three distinguished plenary speakers. Throughout the plenary session, we will hear from UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel R. Nemenzo, Professor Emeritus Ben S. Malayang III of Siliman University, National Scientist Lourdes J. Cruz of the Future Earth Philippines Program, and UPLB Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension Nathaniel Bantayan. To register, just click on the link:

https://bit.ly/PESSummit2022 or scan the QR code on the provided poster.


*This event is for free and is open to the public.*

SESAM, PSAE and PNEE join forces for Ecosystem Valuation training for Mindanao 

The School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM), The University of the Philippines Professional School for Agriculture and the Environment (UP PSAE) and thePhilippine Network of Educators on Environment (PNEE) co-organized the Ecosystems Valuation Training-Mindanao leg last April 25 to 27, 2022, via online conferencing.

The Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD) of SESAM spearheaded the training which was exclusive for 22academe members, local government personnel, national government agency staff and private professionals practicing in Mindanao. 

During the opening program, UPLB Chancellor, Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr., SESAM Dean, Dr. Rico C. Ancog and PSAE Off-Campus Director, Dr. Maria Catalina Tan-de Luna delivered inspirational messages to the participants and reiterated the university’s commitment to Mindanao to help in protecting its rich natural resources by enhancing the capacity of professionals in this training. They emphasized the importance of this training and collaboration, including the practical and significant applications and opportunities in valuing our ecosystems. 

The first speaker, Dr. Mercedita A. Sombilla, Undersecretary of the Regional Development Group, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), gave a comprehensive introduction to basic concepts on the economics of natural resources and she highlighted the importance of understanding the complex relationships and dynamics of ecosystems.

In the afternoon session of day one, Dr. Marites Tiongco of the College of Economics, De La Salle University discussed the overview on the cost-benefit analysis– its importance and uses to people, decision-making, and policy making. She also discussed the categories of environmental benefits and some valuation methods. UPLB Institute of Statistics Assistant Professor, Dr. Lara Paul Ebal, meanwhile lectured on regression analysis with STATA, which is a tool used for statistical analysis, data management, manipulation, and visualization.

Dr. Ebal continued her lecture on regression analysis using STATA on day two and she also conducted a hands-on exercise about review of correlation analysis, simple linear regressionand tests of assumptions for regression.

Dr. Canesio D. Predo of the College of College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR) provided a comprehensive discussion on Methodologies for Economic Assessment specifically on the Stated Preference Approach focusing on Contingent Valuation Method or CVM.

In the afternoon session of day two, Dr. Jessica D. Villanueva-Peyraube of the SESAM discussed the Change of Productivity Approach which is one of the Methodologies for Economic Assessment. Dr. Villanueva-Peyraube also presented a case study and introduced the use of the Data Envelop Analysis Program (DEAP) software to the participants.

On day three, Dr. Ancog presented the methodologies of economic assessment, which covers revealed preference approach and travel cost method. He also conducted a workshop on crafting economic valuation studies for environmental management. 

In his closing remarks, PNEE President, Dr. Ramon M. Doctowas very proud that the PNEE has contributed in the mandate of SESAM-UPLB to deliver trainings and help develop the participants in their respective professions. (RPMCabangbang, JOAquino and TPLawas)

UPLB-SESAM commemorates Earth Day with the signing of agreement with Municipal Government of Los Banos

The UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (UPLB-SESAM) signed Letter of Commitment (LOC) with the Municipal Government of Los Banos (MGLB) for the implementation of the joint institutional undertaking, “Environmental Governance in the Municipality of Los Banos”.

The LOC signing was held in celebration of the Earth Day on April 22 at the Mayor’s Office of Los Banos Municipal Hall. Investing in our planet is the core of the 2022 Earth Day celebration. Climate action planning takes intention, insight, effort, and also investment from governments, individuals, and industry. And one of the investments of the UPLB-SESAM and MGLB is this partnership between the academe and the government.  

With the signing of the LOC, the UPLB-SESAM is committed to give technical assistance and experts’ advisory to the MGLB in the formulation of several environmental plans required by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). 

Another goal of this partnership is to capacitate the LGU in the area of environmental governance. This partnership is a step of SESAM to capture sustainability and drive positive action through advocating, educating and sharing of knowledge and skills to its partners and stakeholders. 

UPLB-SESAM Dean, Dr. Rico C. Ancog and Faculty member and Head of SESAM Research Division, Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez represented the School for the LOC signing ceremony while Los Banos Municipal Mayor, Hon. Antonio L. Kalaw and MENRO Focal Person, Ms. Lizette D. Cardenas represented MGLB. 

Also present during the ceremony were For. Sofia A. Alaira and Dr. Yusuf A. Sucol, both SESAM University Researchers, and Dr. Antonio J. Alcantara, MGLB Environmental Consultant and also a retired faculty of UPLB-SESAM. (RDAreglado)

Innovations in the urban and rural areas undergoing climate change adaptation tackled in “SESAM ExChanges”

The fourth SESAM ExChanges Webinar Series featured “Living in Urban and Rural Areas in the Face of Climate Change”, as the Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD) of the School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños (SESAM-UPLB) invited two experts conducting studies in climate change and disaster risk reduction and management.

Environmental Planner Jose Bernardo B. Gochoco III, Project Officer, Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction & Management, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)-Local Governments for Sustainability Southeast Asia Secretariat, talked about climate change adaptation among cities in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, Dr. Athur Mabiso, Senior Technical Specialist, Research and Impact Division, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) discussed climate change adaptation among rural communities in Asia and Africa. 

EnP. Gochoco III, introduced ICLEI– which is a is a global network of more than 2,500 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. Active in more 125 countries, ICLEI influenced sustainability policy and drive local action for low emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient and circular development.

In the overview of climate change impacts in Southeast Asia, EnP. Gochoco III said that cities and their surrounding regions are on the frontlines of global change. They are confronted by the impacts of rapid urbanization, demographic change, climate change, and technological advancements, among others. “As cities rise, grow and change, poverty and inequity remain, and natural systems degrade”, EnP. Gochoco III stressed. 

“In this urban era, cities are centers of opportunity and prosperity. We need to harness this energy to reorient and rebalance the patterns of daily life, the built environment, and the natural systems in and around cities across the world”, EnP. Gochoco III, added.

For his part, Dr. Mabiso, who has an extensive research experience the areas of agricultural policy, rural investments, food security, health and nutrition, enumerated projects in rural areas of IFAD implemented in several countries, such as in the Philippines, Vietnam, India, Mauritania, Zambia, Malawi and Kenya. 

In comparing the situation of the Philippines with other countries in Asia such as India and Vietnam, which has more hectarage and better irrigation, Dr. Mabiso said farmers in the Philippines, despite propagating high value crops, must consider off-farming activities or entering other sectors. “Some people must move out of agriculture and do other things that may support agriculture or not directly agriculture… and that is climate change adaptation” he said. Further, Dr. Mabiso mentioned there is also a need for the promotion of indirect activities that can support farming, such as how to bring products to the market or food processing. 

Dr. Mabiso also said that we can embrace any technology and innovation that could help farmers increase yield in their production, however, we must also consider the risk and any challenges of any technology to help communities to thrive. He added that data analysis and evidence is critical and must always be the basis if the technology or innovation will work. ‘Technology is technology, it is there to help us to improve our lives and welfare”, he stressed. SESAM ExChanges is an environmental challenges and solutions seminar series organized by CETD-SESAM.

This fourth installment was held via Zoom and Facebook Live Streaming on April 28, 2022, with more than 200 participants from here and around the globe.

Innovations in the urban and rural areas undergoing climate change adaptation tackled in “SESAM ExChanges”

The fourth SESAM ExChanges Webinar Series featured “Living in Urban and Rural Areas in the Face of Climate Change”, as the Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD) of the School of Environmental Science and Management-University of the Philippines Los Baños (SESAM-UPLB) invited two experts conducting studies in climate change and disaster risk reduction and management.

Environmental Planner Jose Bernardo B. Gochoco III, Project Officer, Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction & Management, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)-Local Governments for Sustainability Southeast Asia Secretariat, talked about climate change adaptation among cities in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, Dr. Athur Mabiso, Senior Technical Specialist, Research and Impact Division, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) discussed climate change adaptation among rural communities in Asia and Africa. 

EnP. Gochoco III, introduced ICLEI– which is a is a global network of more than 2,500 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. Active in more 125 countries, ICLEI influenced sustainability policy and drive local action for low emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient and circular development.

In the overview of climate change impacts in Southeast Asia, EnP. Gochoco III said that cities and their surrounding regions are on the frontlines of global change. They are confronted by the impacts of rapid urbanization, demographic change, climate change, and technological advancements, among others. “As cities rise, grow and change, poverty and inequity remain, and natural systems degrade”, EnP. Gochoco III stressed. 

“In this urban era, cities are centers of opportunity and prosperity. We need to harness this energy to reorient and rebalance the patterns of daily life, the built environment, and the natural systems in and around cities across the world”, EnP. Gochoco III, added.

For his part, Dr. Mabiso, who has an extensive research experience the areas of agricultural policy, rural investments, food security, health and nutrition, enumerated projects in rural areas of IFAD implemented in several countries, such as in the Philippines, Vietnam, India, Mauritania, Zambia, Malawi and Kenya. 

In comparing the situation of the Philippines with other countries in Asia such as India and Vietnam, which has more hectarage and better irrigation, Dr. Mabiso said farmers in the Philippines, despite propagating high value crops, must consider off-farming activities or entering other sectors. “Some people must move out of agriculture and do other things that may support agriculture or not directly agriculture… and that is climate change adaptation” he said. Further, Dr. Mabiso mentioned there is also a need for the promotion of indirect activities that can support farming, such as how to bring products to the market or food processing. 

Dr. Mabiso also said that we can embrace any technology and innovation that could help farmers increase yield in their production, however, we must also consider the risk and any challenges of any technology to help communities to thrive. He added that data analysis and evidence is critical and must always be the basis if the technology or innovation will work. ‘Technology is technology, it is there to help us to improve our lives and welfare”, he stressed. 

SESAM ExChanges is an environmental challenges and solutions seminar series organized by CETD-SESAM. This fourth installment was held via Zoom and Facebook Live Streaming on April 28, 2022, with more than 200 participants from here and around the globe.

Environmental concerns score prominently in the Los Baños mayoralty candidates’ forum

Solid waste management was identified as among the major environmental concerns in the Municipality of Los Baños during the recent interviews with three mayoralty candidates. This concern was aired during the UPLB sa Halalan 2022- The Los Baños Mayoral Candidates Leadership Forum, co-presented by the College of Human Ecology (CHE) and the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) on April 21, 2022. More than 100 attended the forum via Zoom and Facebook Live.

Three candidates attended, namely Mr. Feliciano Aloba Escobin, Engr. Joel Mendoza Lapis and the incumbent, Mayor Antonio Laluces Kalaw. The other candidates were also invited, unfortunately, conflict of schedule prevented them to attend the forum.

Engr. Lapis, son of the former Mayor Frank Lapis, said there is a need to properly use the material recovery facilities of the barangays in the municipality. He added that composting facilities must be installed per barangay. “Lets tap experts from UPLB in solid waste management”, he stressed.

Mayor Kalaw said that segregation should start at home. “Lets consult with the university on how can we help each other in the right system of solid waste management”, he said. Mayor Kalaw also mentioned the establishment of transfer station for easier carrying of garbage and lessen the risk posed to the collectors.

“We should help each other for segregation”, Mr. Escobin said. He added that segregation must be implemented first within the household, and he plan to issue color-coded garbage bags, to identify the different types of segregated household wastes and this will be strictly implemented. 

On preservation of Mt. Makiling

“Mt. Makiling is protecting us from calamities and we are continuously coordinating with UPLB in protecting it”, Mayor Kalaw said. “We should not allow cutting trees and reduce the illegal settlers and we should give them assistance, such as housing projects”, he added.

“I live here in the foot of Mt. Makiling, to preserve this, I will fight for the conservation of Mt. Makiling and we should not allow illegal settlers there in respect to our forest”, Mr. Escobin stressed. He added that in order to preserve Mt. Makiling, we should follow the law.

Mr. Lapis said that we borrowed Mt. Makiling from our future generation. “Let’s invite peoples organizations, the experts and other government agencies to help us to take care of this and the environment”, he added. Engr. Lapis also mentioned that tourism in Mt. Makiling can help in creating our job opportunities for Los Baños citizens. 

Plans for the municipality

Mr. Escobin said he will respect the vote of the people. “Even if I will lose in this election, I will continue to support the winning candidate and possibly offer some solutions in the town’s problems in environment, such as global warming, in traffic, scholarship and public safety” he added.

“As an engineer, my expertise can definitely be utilized… we are ready to help and offer our plans and respect the vote of our people”, Engr. Lapis mentioned. Engr. Lapis is also an advocate for the use of renewable energy as he is involved in solar power farm projects. He reiterated that his father, former Mayor Lapis, initiated the branding of Los Baños as “Science and Nature City” in 2000.

For his part, Mayor Kalaw said he has a lot more to offer and very willing to cooperate with the university so that the environment of Los Baños will be protected. “In this opportunity, I will pursue for our constituents of this town to construct a public hospital, housing project for those living in danger zones and illegal settlers”, Mayor Kalaw said.

CCC, SESAM and IdSC Water to strengthen ties to combat climate change

The UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center (IdSC) for Water and the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) hosted Secretary and Commissioner Robert E.A. Borje of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) for a data sharing and partnership meeting last April 8, 2022. Present in the meeting were Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Dean of SESAM, Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Chair of IdSC Water and Member of CCC National Panel of Technical Expert, Mr. Alexis D. Lapiz, CCC Strategic Partnership Division Chief, CCC Staff, and IdSC Water Researchers.

The CCC through the CCO, SESAM and IdSC Water signified to strengthen their institutional partnerships. An existing MOA will be revisited and reviewed to continue the collaborations in research and extension. Both parties recognize the importance of science-based policies and this will only come into fruition if the policy makers are well informed of the outputs of the scientific community. Similarly, the research outputs will only be beneficial to the community only if these transcends to the stakeholders. “We already know what to do to combat climate change and we need partners”, Sec. Borje stressed. He also posed a challenge to the participants on how to make important interesting and interesting urgent as we face issues on climate change.

Data acquisition and utilization

To give a background on how to utilize and analyze available climate datasets, a brief overview of the Data Integration and Analysis System (DIAS) was presented. DIAS, an online free-access database and archiving system funded under MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), is housed in JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) and a product of collaborative efforts from various universities and research institutions. These datasets can be localized and translated to useful information that may aide decision and policy makers.

The process and application involving the integration of climate change projections from global climate models under various emission scenarios to hydrologic facets (e.g., water supply and flood) was showcased using simulation results of Abacan Watershed in Angeles City, Pampanga. Understanding the effects of climate change in watershed’s water balance is useful for effective planning, design and management of water resources.

A study on solar radiation management (SRM), a geoengineering approach and a possible climate change mitigation strategy, was also presented. Currently, there is a global effort on localized research to determine the possible implications of SRM in some regions or countries. For the Philippines, the team aims to look into the implications of SRM to the agricultural productivity and physiology and the hydrological response of selected watersheds draining to Laguna and Lanao Lakes. (CBGigantone)