University of the Philippines Los Baños
Wednesday, 22 February 2017 00:00

UPLB holds 1st int’l INREM conference


With close to 70 research presented in just six hours, there is, indeed, a wealth of scientific knowledge in natural resources conservation and protection, and environment management.

This veritable treasure chest of knowledge was opened at the International Conference on Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management (INREM), held from Feb. 21 to 23 at Hotel Jen in Pasay City.

Even Hon. Regina Paz “Gina” L. Lopez, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, expressed “love” for science as she recognized its contribution to environment protection. Known to be a staunch environmentalist, Sec. Lopez, the Conference’s keynote speaker, underscored the importance of looking at the whole environment amid economic development.

“Genuine economic growth comes with area development. In area development, there has to be a non-negotiable stance on ecological integrity,” Sec. Lopez said. She further said that the welfare of the people in making policies and interventions on natural resources and environmental management is also important.

The research presented on the first day of the Conference focused on the welfare of upland, farming, fishing, and coastal communities in the light of ecological issues. Their geographical scope goes “from ridge to reef” - a reference to the world’s diverse ecosystems that can be found in the mountains and down to the seas.

Dr. Rex B. Demafelis, vice chancellor for research and extension, who delivered the welcome remarks at the opening program on behalf of UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., cited the Conference for its contribution to the attainment of sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Natural resource management plays a key role in attaining a number of these 17 SDGs.

“Our challenge is to harness the lessons that we have learned so that we may effectively apply INREM technologies and solutions from catchment to coast. It’s a long way to 2030 and there is plenty of work to be done,” Dr. Demafelis said.  The year 2030 has been set as the target delivery year of the SDGs.

INREM’s relevance in achieving SDGs was also underscored by UP President Danilo Concepcion in his message read by Dr. Ranjit Rye, assistant vice president for public affairs.

“Sustainable development is anchored on environmental sustainability, economic development, social cohesion, and good governance, which will indeed require an efficient and sustainable natural resource management,” according to Dr. Rye. UP, he further said, has a proud tradition not just of academic research but also of advocacies for sustainable development and natural resources management.

The Conference’s first day featured plenary talks from experts, namely: Dr. Miguel Fortes, professor at UP Diliman Marine Science Institute, who talked about small islands; Dr. Sven Günter, head of Working Area Forestry Worldwide, Thünen Institute of International Forestry and Forestry Economics in Germany,  whose talk was on landscape forestry in the tropics; and Mary Jane Ortega, lecturer at the Ateneo School of Government and former mayor of San Fernando, La Union, who discussed urban-rural linkages.

Also present during the event were Hon. Marlo Mendoza, officer-in-charge for the Undersecretary for policy and planning of the DENR; Dr. Juan Pulhin, chair of the UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center for INREM (UPLB-INREM); and Dr. Rex Victor Cruz, former UPLB chancellor. All of the three are faculty members at the College of Forestry and Natural Resources.

The Conference participants include local and international professors, researchers and students; officials and staff of government and non-government organizations; and deans from different universities in the ASEAN.

The conference theme was “Learning lessons, sharing knowledge: Strengthening the role of INREM in sustainable development.”

A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed by UPLB and DENR during the opening program for the collaborative project on “Sustainable Integrated Area Management.”

The Conference was organized by the UPLB-INREM, with funding from the UP System, UPLB, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau-DENR, and the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation, Inc.

The second day features plenary talks and parallel sessions while the third day will be highlighted by a field trip to UPLB’s Makiling Botanic Gardens, Rainforest Park, and Mudspring. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)