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DENR-Bicol formulates climate change response measures

By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 25 – The Research and Development (R&D) Sector of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol is focusing on four major activities as measures for the development of best forests management practices in order to sustain the ecosystem under the changing climate conditions.

"It is a unique responsibility of our department to address questions about climate change mitigation and adaptation involving the many issues that challenge ecosystem managers, users and other stakeholders,” William Palayapayon, the DENR regional technical director for research told the Philippine News Agency, Thursday.

The R&D focuses its strengths and capabilities to address climate change impacts and the adaptation actions needed to increase resilience to them, he said.

In keeping with its research goals, the regional Ecosystems Research and Development Service (ERDS) is helping define climate change policy and develops best management practices for forests in order to sustain the ecosystem, optimize its services, and increase carbon sequestration, all under the changing climate conditions, Palaypayon added.

Under the mission geared towards responding to climate change through adaptive research and development, he said four concerns on natural resources management have been identified and one is watershed management and its significant role as both mitigating and adaptation strategies to cushion the impact of climate change.

“It is imperative that watershed management be given greater emphasis with particular concern to the upland farmers in order that they can cope with impending harsh scenario and for them to adapt positively by shifting to sustainable upland agriculture in contrast to shifting cultivation which are commonly practiced,” Palaypayon explained.

Seed collection and handling of indigenous tree species is another concern as the participation of reforestation and seedling production contractors prompted the inclusion of these activities considering that seed collection is an important activity prior to plantation establishment.

For reforestation of marginal upland areas, the government promotes the use of indigenous tree species, he said.

Macro propagation of indigenous forest tree species which is a practical approach to cloning forest trees was set up to complement the more sophisticated procedure of tissue culture is another concern.

This type of vegetative mass propagation, the R&D regional chief said, similarly utilizes meristematic cells found in the growing tips of shoots as the DENR-ERDS-tested promising forest tree species for root induction.

The selection index of typhoon resistant reforestation species as adaptation strategy to climate change is another strategy needed as proven by a study entitled, “Survey and Identification of Typhoon Resistant Reforestation Species” conducted at the 10-year-old Contract Reforestation Project in Barangay Misisbis, Bacacay, Albay.

The study devised a scoring system to measure individual tree damage based on five different categories namely defoliation, branch breaking, stem breaking, leaning and uprooting Palaypayon said explaining that every tree included in the set up was assessed using the system.

“Points were deducted for each damage category sustained by individual trees. An index of selection criteria for choosing appropriate species in typhoon prone areas were proposed based on the results of the study,” he said.

Icol is a disaster-prone region and these initiatives have been identified to share enabling technologies that are results of the ERDS’ efforts towards addressing climate change adaptation, Palaypayon said.

Disasters caused by massive flooding and landslide that battered the region since over three years ago have claimed the lives of over a thousand residents and economically displaced thousands others. These natural calamities aggravated by the deteriorated forest properties were attributable to the prevailing climate change scenario, he said.

The most remembered among these disasters was the flash flood in Albay during typhoon "Reming" in late 2006 that killed about a thousand people and rendered homeless thousands of families when rampaging volcanic debris from the slope of Mt. Mayon hit several parts of the province including urban centers here and suburban municipalities.

Several people were also buried alive by landslides that hit Sorsogon and Catanduanes during typhoons "Milenyo" also in 2006 and "Dante" in May last year.

“Climate change is already happening and represents one of the greatest environmental, social and economic threats facing the planet so that human activities that contribute to this phenomenon including in particular the burning of fossil fuels, agriculture and land-use changes like deforestation should be addressed at once,” Palaypayon said.

Sudden changes to ecosystems and the goods and services provides are not well understood, but they are extremely important if natural resource managers are to succeed in developing adaptation strategies in a changing world, he added.

DENR regional Transfer Technology Division (TTD) chief Lida Borboran said the mission of the DENR Research Sector is to develop and deliver knowledge and innovative technology to improve the use of our ecosystems.

“We are conducting for a whose rationale rests on bringing together experts, practitioners and stakeholders to share views and experiences on climate change adaptation; identify opportunities, build joint efforts and discuss how best to link climate change response and climate-related strategies and activities in the Bicol region, harmonize coordination, and to maximize synergies, Borboran said.

These region wide activities provide venues for DENR clientele, field workers and researchers for discussion and sharing of recent and present initiatives and issues regarding climate change, she added. (PNA)

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