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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, June 15, 2020
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with Errol A. Gatumbato
OPINIONS

Biodiversity matters webinar

Rock & Refuge

The whole country celebrates Environment Month this June, but this time, no mass gatherings in commemorating this annual event as we are still under community quarantine due to the pandemic of Covid-19.

Most of the activities, especially the conservation awareness, are being done online to continue educating the public on the importance of environmental protection and nature conservation.

This is the best time for us to reflect what’s really happening to our environment, especially so that this Covid-19 has dramatically and radically changed our daily routines during the past months. In fact, to date, we are still uncertain what will happen since the virus continues to spread, and the danger of contamination is even more pronounced with the easing down of the lockdown, not only in the Philippines, but in other countries, too.

One of the online activities that will be held this week is the webinar entitled “Biodiversity Matters” with the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. or PhilBio as host. The webinar is a term coined for the combination of web and seminar, a detailed discussion using various social media and other online platforms. This webinar shall feature topics on biodiversity, human health, and participatory biodiversity conservation, and will be made available to the public via the PhilBio’s Facebook page every 3 p.m. from June 16-20.

PhilBio operations manager Philip Godfrey Jakosalem will open the webinar on June 16 with his talk “Biodiversity: More Variety, Better Society”, which shall cover the importance of biodiversity in maintaining and securing human health. Jakosalem earned his master’s degree on applied ecology and conservation in the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. He is an active member of the Hornbill Species Specialists Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, World Owl Trust in UK, South East Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit, and the Negros Bird Conservation Society.

Community development officer ReginaldoBueno of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region VII is expected to give a virtual talk on “Protected Areas: Trends and Updates” on June 17. He was the Protected Area superintendent of the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary from 2009 to 2015.

On June 18, PhilBio executive director Lisa Paguntalan will provide discussion on “Biodiversity Practices, Engaging Communities”. She will discuss how communities are able to participate in biodiversity conservation, including the development and implementation of citizen scientists in biological field surveys and researches.

Paguntalan took up her undergraduate and master’s degree on biology at the University of Silliman in Dumaguete City. Her extensive field research in the country led to the rediscovery of the supposedly extinct species and the discovery of new species of hawk owls in Cebu and Camiguin. She is a member of the technical working group of the Philippines Red List Committee, and also an active member of the IUCN Hornbill Species Specialists Group.

Another interesting topic on this webinar is on “Bats and Disease Ecology”, which will take up some issues related to corona viruses on June 19. Dr. Susan Tsang, founder and chief executive officer of the Biodiversitas Global LLC was invited to deliver this topic. Her research primarily focuses on the evolution and biogeography of Southeast Asian flying foxes.

Tsang is a research associate of the Mammals Section of the Philippine National Museum of Natural History and the Division of Vertebrate Zoology of the America Museum of Natural History in New York, while an active member of the IUCN Bat Specialists Group. She completed her doctoral studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

On the last day of the webinar, June 20, yours truly, as president of the PhilBio, will deliver a topic on the governance aspects of biodiversity. I am expected to give inputs and insights pertaining to management and administration, policies, programs, and activities that affect our biodiversity. I will also take some themes related to laws of nature.

The Provincial Environment Management Office of the provincial government of Negros Occidental, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, STI West Negros University, and the South East Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit are the partner institutions of PhilBio for this event. Anyone is interested for this webinar may register in the link provided in the FB page of the PhilBio.*

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