The Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands, Inc (SCPW) successfully conducted a Training of Trainers (ToT) for the Wetlands BioBlitz attended by 25 participants and experts from 15 agencies and organizations, including academe, Local Government Units (LGUs), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) offices, Ramsar Sites, and a Non-Governmental Organization. The said training, which is part of the “Living Lakes Biodiversity and Climate Project” (LLBCP) capacity-building activities, was held from 20-23 March 2023 at Bendix Hotel, San Fernando, Pampanga and at the Paligui Wetlands of Candaba, Pampanga.
The Wetlands BioBlitz is a citizen-science activity that aims to increase awareness of local communities, generate scientific information to inform rehabilitation and conservation efforts, and increase capacity of local communities to embark on wetland conservation activities. In particular, This ToT for Wetlands BioBlitz is intended to ensure that a pool of trainers is equipped and available to replicate this proven citizen science activity to gather baseline data in various wetlands in the country, initiate monitoring activities, and plan for conservation and restoration projects.
Day 1 of the training commenced with the Opening Preliminaries where the participants, guests and Resource Persons were welcomed by Ms. Amy M. Lecciones, Executive Director of SCPW and Project Manager of the LLBCP-Philippines. This was followed by learning sessions where the following topics were discussed:
- The Living Lakes Biodiversity and Climate Project (Amy M. Lecciones)
- Introduction to Wetlands BioBlitz: A Citizen Science Activity (Amy M. Lecciones)
- Wetlands 101 (Jose Carlo H. Quintos)
- Ecological Profile of Paligui Wetlands (Darry Shel M. Estorba)
This was followed by a workshop where tools and methods employed in the Wetlands BioBlitz activity were discussed by the invited Resource Persons as follows:
- Flora Assessment (Ivy Amor Lambio, Institute of Biological Sciences – University of the Philippines, Los Baños and SCPW; Ms. Yrah Joy C. Panizales, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB)
- Fauna Assessment (Mr. Alon Velasquez , ERDB
- Water Quality and Hydrology (Ms. May Ann R. Esperitu and Ms. Dorina K. Espenilla, Watershed and Water Resources Research Development and Extension Center (WWRDEC) – ERDB
- Rapid Assessment of Wetland Ecosystem Services (RAWES) (Dr. Ma. Catriona Devanadera from College of Human Ecology – UPLB and SCPW)
Day 2 was field work where the trainees had the opportunity to practice the tools and methods that were discussed. The participants were divided into four groups: Flora, Fauna (particularly avifauna, mammals, and herpetofauna), Water Quality, and RAWES. Data collected was consolidated, processed, and reported by the groups. Using the rich-picture method, the participants were able to use the data gathered for their visioning and action planning sessions for Paligui Wetlands. Some of the strategies and activities identified include institutionalization of the action plan through local ordinance or policy, capacity building and collaboration with LGU and other relevant agencies; sustainable ecotourism /farm-tourism plan and livelihood programs; conduct of other CEPA activities and regular monitoring activities, among others.
The last day of the training coincided with the groundbreaking ceremony for the Paligui Wetland Center. The participants had the privilege of witnessing a momentous occasion where a landmark structure that will be the hub for delivering CEPA to promote the conservation of Paligui Wetlands and the greater Candaba Wetlands will rise. This was followed by the Closing Program and evaluation where the participants shared their feedback on the training as well as their plans on how and when to replicate this citizen science activity. The Closing Program was attended by the Local Government Unit of Barangay Paligui headed by Hon. Virgilio Manalili, Punong Barangay.
The list of the agencies that participated in the ToT were the following:
- DENR Region 3
- Las Piñas – Parañaque Wetland Park / DENR NCR
- DENR – MIMAROPA
- CENRO Calauag
- Agusan del Sur State College of Agriculture and Technology
- Pampanga State Agricultural University
- Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University
- LGU Paoay
- Pangil Eco-River Park / LGU Pangil
- LGU Candaba
- Friends of the Seven Lakes, San Pablo City
- Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau
- Watershed and Water Resources Research Development and Extension Center – ERDB
- University of the Philippines, Los Baños – Institute of Biological Sciences
- University of the Philippines, Los Baños – College of Human Ecology