UPLB-INREM ITMoB project conducts back-to-back activities in La Union
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Forum on Bioproduction Systems of the Baroro Watershed attended by the local stakeholders

The UP Los Baños Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management (UPLB-INREM) co-organized a series of activities in La Union on April 18 – 21, 2023 as part of the implementation of the Integration of Traditional and Modern Bioproduction Systems for a Sustainable and Resilient Future Under Climate and Ecosystems Changes (ITMoB) Project.

On April 20, 2023, UPLB-INREM and the La Union Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Office (La Union PG-ENRO) held a Forum on Baroro Watershed Bioproduction Systems. Meanwhile, a series of community meetings facilitated by the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples were conducted on April 18, 19 and 21. 

Forum on Baroro Watershed Bioproduction Systems

The UPLB-INREM and La Union PG-ENRO co-organized the Forum on Baroro Watershed Bioproduction Systems on April 20, 2023 held at the PDRRM Council Conference Room, San Fernando City, La Union in order to present the watershed stakeholders the initial findings of the project team and get feedback from them audience, as well as to present future activities of the project. The meeting was participated by more than 30 watershed stakeholders including representatives from national government agencies and the local government units located within the watershed.

Ms. Agnes Grace Cargamento, La Union Provincial Administrator and OIC Provincial Agriculturist, welcomed the project team and participants. In her welcome remarks, she said: “This is a very timely study and a very welcome development as this is one of the things we are looking into, on how to engage with the academe in terms of helping us out in improving, changing, and adapting our systems and processes on the utilization of our natural resources.”

It was followed by messages of support from key executives. Hon. Raphaelle Veronica A. Ortega-David sent a video message to the participants of the forum where she said: “We will continue to extend our full support and assistance in the implementation of the ITMoB project in the Baroro Watershed. This project will greatly help the province of La Union to ensure the sustainability of watersheds, especially with the alarming effects of climate change. As we aim to position La Union as the heart of Agri-Tourism in Northern Luzon by 2025, rest assured that the PLGU will do its part to implement this project in the best way possible.”

Thereafter, on behalf of Hon. Mario Eduardo C. Ortega, Mr. Denver Badua, Executive Assistant of the Vice Governor, said: “The office of the Vice Governor would like to express his support in aiding legislative measures for this project with the urgent need to address the environmental concerns of the province to develop potential interventions that will enhance ecosystem services… We hope to have policies and regulations that will be set, enforced, and operationalized based on the principles of transparency, participatory, and collaborative watershed management.”

Dr. Nimfa K. Torreta, OIC-Director of Forestry and Environment Research Division of the  Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), through a recorded video said: “Supporting action research like the ITMoB is imperative for us because this allows us to directly contribute to addressing food security and poverty issues, especially in rural areas, which are greatly affected by land use and land cover, climate, and socio-demographic changes…We hope that this project can genuinely benefit us and that your engagement will continue to be fruitful.”

Dr. Juan Pulhin, UPLB-INREM Chair and ITMoB Project Leader, led the presentation of the overall project status and its preliminary findings together with work package leaders Dr. Cristino Tiburan, Jr. and Dr. Asa Jose Sajise. Dr. Pulhin wrapped his presentation by highlighting that the ITMoB project resonates with the PUSO agenda of the Governor. People-centered as it is participatory, Universal Access as it is inclusive and will also engage women and youth in its visioning exercises, Sustainable and progressive economy as at the heart of a progressive economy is also a sustainable and progressive ecosystem, and Orderly, Healthy, and Resilient as the focus of the project is sustainability and resiliency. In the end, he coined the tagline “ITMoB para sa PUSO”.

The presentation was followed by an open forum wherein Ms. Mary Jane Ortega, former mayor of San Fernando City, and Mr. Toby Tamayo, PGLU Consultant on Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources, are among the participants who shared their feedback and acknowledged the urgency and merit of the project implementation with the hope of replicating the study with the rest of the Region and beyond in the future.

Mr. Jay-ar Raquedan, in place of EnP. Annalyn Rosario-Valdez, OIC-PG-ENRO, in the closing remarks said: “The results of the study will greatly help and assist the provincial government thru the Office of Provincial Agriculture and PG-ENRO in planning and development of smart and sustainable bioproduction systems amidst the changing climate…Through this endeavor, we look forward to a stronger partnership for improved watershed governance towards building a stronger La Union.”

In the afternoon, after the forum, ITMoB project team together with representatives from PG-ENRO visited the Lotus Valley Farm in San Juan, and La Union River Farm in Bacnotan hosted by Mr. Toby Tamayo and Mr. Cesar Ocampo, respectively. The site visit aims to familiarize and have an onsite appreciation of the various bioproduction systems in the watershed.

Community Meetings with Indigenous Peoples’ Leaders

In coordination with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Districts in La Union headed by Ms. Salud B. Umaybas-Dalog, FBI/FPIC Team Leader of NCIP Sudipen, and Ms. Ester L. Marzan, FBI/FPIC Team Leader of NCIP Pugo, three (3) community presentations were successfully conducted in San Gabriel, Bagulin, and Santol on April 18, 19, and 21, respectively.

The series of meetings is part of the Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) process for securing Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) within the Baroro Watershed. The meeting was attended by ICCs/IPs leaders from each barangay within the watershed.

Dr. Lorena Sabino and Dr. Juan Pulhin presented the project information during the meetings and sought the consent of the IP leaders to allow the project implementation in their areas. They explained that the project will only seek information from the farmers and residents in the watershed in order to recommend policy interventions for its management. The meetings concluded with the indigenous leaders approving the project team’s request and signing resolutions as written proof of their approval. 

The ITMoB project is a three-year project that will run from October 16, 2021 – October 15, 2024, and is being implemented by the UPLB-INREM through the generous support of the DOST-PCAARRD. (Angelica Magpantay – University Researcher, Farah Sevilla – University Researcher, Laizha Lynn Lomente – University Research Associate II, UPLB-INREM)