NASA Scientist to Share Experiences and Expertise on Using Remote Sensing in Laguna de Bay basin Lake Water Monitoring

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Senior Scientist, Dr. Josefino Comiso, will be a visiting professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) for the month of February. He will be giving a free lecture on the Application of Remote Sensing in Monitoring Water Quality and Lake Surface Water Uses, and Land Use Change of Laguna de Bay Basin, on February 13, 4PM, at NCAS Auditorium.

Everyone is invited to join the lecture, and be updated with Dr. Comiso’s set of activities this February!

SESAM conducts capacity building workshop on mangrove diversity and carbon stock assessment for local government officials

B-Leaders seminar MVOEDr. Ma. Victoria Espaldon, Professor, SESAM, commenced the lecture series with basic concepts and theories on Mangroves at the capacity building workshop held last January 26-27, 2017 at SEARCA Residence Hotel.

The School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) held a two-day workshop on mangrove diversity and carbon stock assessment last January 26-27, 2017 at the SEARCA Residence Hotel, UPLB. Representatives from several academic institutions, barangay officials and staff from the local government of Batangas City participated the event. The workshop was an off-shoot of a research project commissioned by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Building Low Emission Alternatives to Develop Economic Resilience and Sustainability Project (B-LEADERS). 

Mangroves are salt tolerant trees that have adapted to living in salt and brackish water conditions. They vary in size from shrubs to tall trees and are found along sheltered tropical mudflats or wetlands or in association with estuaries and lagoons and may extend inland along rivers, streams, and their tributaries. In line with the country’s program on climate change mitigation, the potential of mangroves as highly efficient blue carbon sinks that sequester and store large quantities of carbon in standing stocks biomass and sediments for long time periods has been elaborated. In the long-run, the emergence of carbon markets and potential income that can be derived from carbon credits of mangroves has been an incentive to rehabilitate and conserve mangrove forests particularly among local government units. 

Several professors were invited to serve as lecturers in this two-day workshop intended to inform, educate and communicate with the relevant stakeholders on the role of mangrove ecosystem in mitigating climate change specifically on carbon sequestration and in effect contribute to the development of its residents as citizen scientists capable of managing their mangrove forest. Dr.  Maria Victoria Espaldon, professor at SESAM provided the participants a discussion on the basic concepts on Climate Change, adaptation and mitigation options. On the other hand, Dr. Dixon Gevaña, professor at the College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR) of UPLB elaborated the potential of mangrove as a carbon sink. The details on mangrove structure and diversity and mangrove participatory mapping were discussed by Prof. Arthur Glenn Umali and Prof. Romnick Baliton, both faculty members of CFNR. Lastly, Dr. Rico Ancog, professor at SESAM, discussed some pointers on quantification and monetization approaches of several ecosystem services provided by mangroves.

After the workshop, participants have noted their improved appreciation on the various roles of mangrove ecosystems, and learned initial skills in conducting diversity assessment and carbon sequestration computation (Maria Rozan A. Ramirez).


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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LLDA GM Acosta on the LLCA bill: Any Solon Has the Right to Propose Laws

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"We have made significant and transformative movements" said LLDA General Manager Neric Acosta, refering to LLDA's accomplishments in the past few years during the LEAP Forum at Summit Ridge, Tagaytay city, November 23, 2016.

TAGAYTAY CITY. The proposed house bill to create the Laguna Lake Conservation Authority (LLCA), was presented during the Lake Ecosystem Assessment in the Philippines (LEAP) Forum last November 23, 2016 at Summit Ridge, Tagaytay City.

Authored by AKBAYAN Partylist Representative Tomasito S. Villarin, the bill was presented by his Legislative Assistant, Mr. Conrad Castillo, Jr. If signed into law, it will repeal the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) Law of 1966 and will eventually abolish the LLDA.

The said lower house proposal is set for its first reading, possibly this week, according to Mr. Castillo. But LLDA General Manager Neric Acosta, a former three-term Congressman of the Province of Bukidnon from 1998-2007, said it is just the solon’s job to file congressional bills, either new or amending existing ones. 

For this proposal, GM Acosta said that it really takes time and effort before a bill will be passed into a law. “I’ve been there, now it is up to the legislative process, the committee hearings and the inputs of other house committee members“ said Mr. Acosta. “For me, there is no need to change the LLDA law at the moment … the need for now, is to strengthen the law”, he added.

General Manager Acosta stressed that the mandate of LLDA is very clear- conservation of the lake. “There are lots of factors, such as climate change and the balance of ecology and the needs of our economy, our congress should look at that also”, he added.

He also enumerated the accomplishments of LLDA- the establishment of the first and only green office building in the Philippines and also upgrading of its laboratory, which is ISO 9001 accredited. 

However, he said LLDA is not a perfect organization and faces lots of challenges. LLDA currently has about 400 personnel, which focuses not only on Laguna Lake. Also under their jurisdiction are the Seven Lakes of San Pablo City, as well as monitoring of more than 120 river basins. He adds Laguna Lake’s surroundings is very complex, it is situated in the most densely populated, highly urbanized region in the country.

Regarding the reduction of fish pens in Laguna Lake, GM Acosta said it is not easy to implement. However, earlier this year they already dismantled some illegal fish pens. “There is a need consider food security and the jobs of people working in these fish pens, if we just dismantle them immediately, look at what will happen in the food supply”, GM Acosta said. 

He is also concerned on the plight of the ordinary fishermen. “But this is just one concern that the agency is taking care of, we have domestic and industrial pollution, climate change, which is not just affecting the lake, but eventually the fishermen and their families themselves”, he added.

Laguna Lake main focus of the LEAP Forum

LEAP group photo

The two-day Lake Ecosystem Assessment in the Philippines (LEAP) Forum on November 22-23, 2016 at Summit Ridge, Tagaytay City, tackled the present issues and concerns hounding Laguna Lake.

This forum aims at obtaining experts’ opinion and pertinent science-based information necessary in drafting multi-sectoral policy recommendations on reconditioning Laguna Lake. These recommendations will eventually be submitted to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for proper turnover to the concerned agencies such as the Office of the President, House of Representatives and the Senate. The forum also aims to establish a program template to be used as reference for future similar program targeting other lake ecosystems in the Philippines.

LEAP Chancellor Sanchez

UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. gave his welcome remarks and expressed his gratitude to all stakeholders in participating in this forum.

The forum proceedings will be published for dissemination to various stakeholders and policymakers. Among the papers presented includes the “Water Quality of Laguna de Bay in Relation to Biological Pollution by Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla, Professor Emeritus, College of Arts and Sciences, UPLB; “Laguna de Bay Watersheds and Water Availability” by Dr. Guillermo Q. Tabios III, Professor, Institute of Civil Engineering, UP Diliman; “Assessment of Geophysical Hazards in Southwest Laguna de Bay: Insights from Geological; Geomorphological and Ground Penetrating Radar Data” by Dr. Noelynna T. Ramos, Professor, Natinal Institute of Geological Sciences, UP Diliman; “Estrogenic Pollutants: Impacts on Reproductive Health of Fish in Laguna de Bay” by Dr. Michelle V. Paraso, College of Veterinary Medicine, UPLB; and “Tourism and Other Ecotourism Services” by Dr. Nathaniel C. Bantayan, College of Forestry and Natural Resources, UPLB.

Invited are various stakeholders from LGUs situated along the shores of Laguna Lake, fisherfolk organizations, national government agencies and international research agencies.

Also presented during the forum is the House Bill on Creating the Laguna Lake Conservation Authority (LLCA), to repeal R.A. 4850 also known as the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) Act of 1966. The bill is authored by AKBAYAN Partylist Representative Tomasito Villarin. Mr. Conrad Castillo, Jr., Legisative Assistant, who represented the Congressman Villarin in the forum, said there is an urgent need to revise how the government is managing lakes, particularly the Laguna de Bay, which is severely affected by various economic, domestic and industrial factors. “This house bill is waiting for its first reading, possibly this week, and after that, automatically a technical working group will be established for this proposed law”, he said. “We welcome this forum initiated by SESAM-UPLB, and we are interested in continuing coordination with the academe”, Mr. Castillo added.

For his part, LLDA General Manager Neric Acosta, welcomes the proposal by Rep. Villarin, but he reminded that the proposal should not undermine the accomplishments made by the LLDA in the last 50 years. “LLDA has a clear mandate, which includes the conservation of Laguna Lake”, Mr. Acosta said. He also laments other problems, which makes it very difficult to manage the lake with other stakeholders due to several factors.  “Many LGUs in CALABARZON did not include the understanding of ecosystem in their land-use plans”, Mr. Acosta added.

The LEAP Forum is supported by the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP)-DOST, DENR-LLDA and the Deutsche Gesellschaft for Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

EIDR Project to Conduct LEAP Forum

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The University of the Philippines, in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST: National Research Council of the Philippines, DOST-National Capital Region, Technology Application and Promotion Institute and the National Academy of Science and Technology), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR: Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), the Environmental Management Bureau) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), will be organizing a two-day forum entitled “Lake Ecosystems Assessment in the Philippines (LEAP): A Science and Policy Forum for a Sustainable Laguna Lake Management”. The forum is to be held at the Summit Ridge Hotel, Tagaytay City from 22 to 23 November 2016.

In support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Administration goal of restoring the environmental integrity of Laguna Lake to benefit the members of grassroots communities along the shorelines, this two-day program primarily aims to draft a set of multi-sectoral policy recommendations pertaining to Laguna Lake management.

The two-day event is part of an on-going research program funded by the UP System’s Emerging Interdisciplinary Research (EIDR) Grant that aims to provide the most recent set of information for setting the future directions of Laguna Lake by looking at its bio-geophysical characteristics, pollution levels, watershed changes, and how its many communities envision the lake to eventually take shape. By partnering with DOST and DENR, these information will be utilized to formulate science-based policies for the integrated management of Laguna de Bay, and hopefully also of other large urban lakes.

Day 1 of the forum will provide a venue for the presentation of the most recent scientific information on the various aspects of the lake’s health. Day 2 will be a policy workshop that will utilize the environmental updates and baselines established by the preceding papers. Presentations made on the first day will be transcribed, edited, reviewed, and published into a book, with permission from the presenters, to serve as a comprehensive reference material on Laguna Lake. Outputs of the second day will be packaged as policy papers for submission to relevant groups for lobbying towards a sustainable integrated management of the lake.