In a virtual kick-off meeting, the Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management (IdSC-INREM) of University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) launched the project entitled “Research for Development: Payment for Ecosystem Services Outcome for Sustainable Water Provision (R4D: PESO SWaP) in Barobbob Watershed, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines” funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) last 31 January 2022 via Zoom.
The project team, headed by Dr. Juan M. Pulhin, NAST Academician, UPLB Professor, and the Chair of IdSC-INREM, invited the stakeholders of the Barobbob Watershed to forge partnerships and introduce the said project to the Province of Nueva Vizcaya. The virtual event was participated by representatives from DOST-PCAARRD, DENR Forest Management Bureau, Nueva Vizcaya State University (NVSU), Provincial LGU, PENRO, Bayombong LGU, Friends of the Environment for Development and Sustainability (FRENDS INC), National Irrigation Administration NUEVA Vizcaya, Nueva Vizcaya Watershed Management Committee Operations Coordinating Unit (NVWMC-OCU), Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) Nueva Vizcaya Chapter, and farmers’ associations.
The event started with the rationale of the event given by Dr. Arvin P. Vallesteros, Dean of College of Forestry, Environment and Natural Resources Management of NVSU. NVSU is the state university partner of UPLB in implementing the project. Then, it was followed by the messages of Assoc. Prof. Marlo D. Mendoza, Dean of College of Forestry and Natural Resources of UPLB, and Dr. Feliciano G. Calora, Jr., Deputy Executive Director for Research and Development of DOST-PCAARRD. They highlighted the significance of PES and expressed their hope for a successful implementation of the project. Afterward, Dr. Pulhin presented the project overview emphasizing the conservation of the Barobbob Watershed through a PES scheme. The scheme targets to incentivize the upland dwellers to employ sustainable management that will improve the water supply capacity of the watershed. The affirmation on the importance of the project was highlighted in the open forum as the participants asked questions and shared information on the long history of the environmental conservation effort in the watershed, issues in occupancy and property rights, and others.
Various statements of gratitude and support from NVMC-OCU Head For. Henry Patricio, PIEP Nueva Vizcaya Chapter President Engr. Maria Jonem Gacad, NIA Nueva Vizcaya representative Ms. Pelita Marie Gabriel, Provincial Waterworks System Superintendent II Engr. Danilo Dominguez, and MENRO Marilyn Juan of LGU Bayombong were also expressed in the response from stakeholders’ part of the kick-off. To elaborate on what to expect on the activities of the project, Dr. Asa Jose U. Sajise, one of the project staff and a UPLB Professor, shared the project’s next steps emphasizing on building rapport and relationships with the stakeholders of the watershed for smooth implementation of the project and its objectives. These project activities include stakeholder consultation, focus group discussion, key informant interviews, secondary data gathering, watershed delineation, surveys among farmers, upland occupants, residents, and other beneficiaries of the water supply from the Barobbob watershed. These will be jointly planned, conceptualized, and developed with the key partners. Moreover, it involves the participatory and capacity building orientation of the project and consolidating all information gathered into a draft PES implementation and monitoring plan that will serve as an input to a national policy.
The event ended with the closing remarks of Engr. Giovannie M. Magat, the OIC-PENRO of the province, wherein he expressed the importance of conserving the watershed and the commitment of DENR in supporting the project. (Adelaine C. Arganda, University Research Associate, R4D:PESO-SWaP)