UNU-IAS master′s degree students are developing a Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (LBSAP) for Freedom Island in the City of Parañaque in metropolitan Manila, Philippines.
For students in the UNU-IAS Master of Science in Environmental Governance with Specialization in Biodiversity programme, this overseas fieldwork is part of a course requirement, in which they undertake problem-solving assignments for an ongoing biodiversity governance project. Before travelling to the Philippines in earlier this month (July 2012), students received classroom training and conducted fieldwork in Japan, examining the perceptions of different stakeholders on the ecosystem services of Yatsu Higata, a Ramsar site on Tokyo Bay.
As the student’s course is about to culminate, they are now working in the field in the Philippines to develop the LBSAP for Barangay San Dionisio, City of Parañaque. The onsite work covers mainly parts of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), one of the last remaining mangrove areas in the rapidly urbanizing Manila Bay.
The students will stay in Parañaque for two weeks, collecting and assessing existing data and information on biodiversity.With help from the ACB and officials in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines, they are identifying stakeholder institutions, meeting governmental officials and reviewing relevant documents covering laws, regulations, policies and programmes concerning biodiversity preservation in the area.
Under the supervision of Dr. Jose Puppim de Oliveira and Dr. Volker Mauerhofer, the students will assess and map out local biodiversity and ecosystems, and do research on opportunities for the area. The students will produce the LBSAP in consultation with local officials and other stakeholders.
The team will present its findings to local government officials, NGOs and other stakeholders while in the Philippines, in order to garner feedback and conduct further fieldwork based on the responses they receive. The LBSAP report will be finalized after the students return to Japan in mid-July.
The UNU-IAS programme includes this exercise as a requirement for the Master of Science degree in Environmental Governance, as it provides students with an opportunity to exchange views and ideas about city planning and biodiversity with local stakeholders. This process will be important in guiding the future of biodiversity in the City of Parañaque and the Philippines, as well as for preparing the students for careers in biodiversity management.
The Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan project is part of a collaborative effort between UNU-IAS and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB).