The Baroro Watershed kick-off meeting was held on 1 December 2021, 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, as a joint preliminary activity of the two projects funded by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) and implemented by the College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). Key stakeholders from local government units, government agencies, civil society organizations, and the academe were invited to attend the online event, which provided an opportunity to introduce the two projects and discuss collaborative efforts to ensure the success of various activities. The two projects are the “Integration of Traditional and Modern Bioproduction Systems for a Sustainable and Resilient Future Under Climate and Ecosystems Changes (ITMoB)”, headed by Dr. Juan M. Pulhiin of the Interdisciplinary Studies Center on Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management (INREM) and the “Institutionalization of Guidelines on Watershed Integrated Area Land Use Planning Towards Resiliency (WILUP)”, led by Dr. Vida Q. Carandang of the Institute for of Renewable and Natural Resources (IRNR).
In his welcome remarks, La Union Governor Francisco Emmanuel R. Ortega III thanked the UPLB for choosing the Baroro Watershed as their project site. He pledged the commitment of the provincial local government unit (LGU) to play an active role as a key partner of various activities in the pipeline. Vice Governor Mario Eduardo C. Ortega, in his opening message, emphasized the timeliness of the projects given the potential water supply problems that the province will face in the future. With such issue, he assured the stakeholders of the support of his office and the Provincial Board members, mentioning the need for discussions on legislative measures to institutionalize WILUP for the long term.
Delivering the opening remarks are Prof. Marlo Mendoza, Dean of CFNR, who encouraged the need for active multistakeholder participation to protect the Baroro Watershed, and Dr. Feliciano G. Calora Jr., Executive Director of DOST-PCAARRD, who highlighted the importance of the two projects in his office’s Harmonized National Research and Development Agenda (HNRDA). Dr. Juan M. Pulhin presented a brief overview of the ITMoB project, which aims to assess the impacts of traditional and modern bioproduction systems on ecosystem services as influenced by climate change and land use change at a watershed level. Dr. Rex Victor O. Cruz, on the other hand, gave the audience a glimpse of the WILUP project, which focuses on facilitating the institutionalization of the proposed guidelines on watershed integrated area land use planning to promote the resiliency and sustainability of watersheds, ecosystems and people, towards resilient and sustainable local and national development.
The presentations were well-received by representatives from the Baroro Watershed Council, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and civil society and youth organizations, who have conveyed to provide resources and manpower toward the success of the project. To end, Mayor Herminigildo M. Velasco of the municipality of San Gabriel, La Union reiterated the call to action to ensure the cooperation of all stakeholders and actors in the Baroro Watershed for a sustainable and resilient future.
The ITMoB project will be implemented from 2021 to 2024, while the WILUP project will run from 2021 to 2023.