Did you know that the science of climate change start with the sun? What have you done for the planet today?
These are two of the questions I’ve encountered during my four-day “Eco-Ranger Training Workshop” last year at Benilda ng Bancuro, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. The seminar, conducted by Haribon Foundation, DENR-USAID Biodiversity & Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy & Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER), aims for the conservation and protection of the 14,568-hectare Naujan Lake National Park (NLNP)—the fifth largest lake in the Philippines and designated by RAMSAR Site as “Wetland of International Importance.”
I, together with schoolmates Charles Cruzat, Angelie Buela and Zandre Cruzado, represent the Leuteboro National High School, Socorro. We came with other selected secondary students from Naujan, Victoria and Pola, towns that surround NLNP.
Our mind, heart and soul were nourished by notable speakers from the Haribon Foundation.
Different modules for each topic were distributed, as well as delicious food and drinks. We’ve learned a lot of amazing ideas from the resource persons such as: nutrients, chemicals and water are essential in supporting life in an ecosystem.
We learned how to value, conserve, consume, develop and protect our rich Philippine biodiversity especially NLNP, which we discovered is a part of a watershed that is the basic building blocks of natural environment that slows down run-off, reduce flooding and soil erosion, and helps filter out pollutants.
In addition to this, plants and animals are dependent on a healthy watershed to provide their habitat source of water, stream corridors provide key connection across the landscape for various animals, carbon storage, vital sources of water supply for domestic and industrial purposes including hydro-electric and geothermal energy, provides socio-economic base for growing population and help maintain ecological balance.
Different kind of policies and laws that support proper management of watershed were introduced to us. In climate change, we found out that if there’s global warming, while healthy biodiversity means resilient communities and continuous provision of basic needs.
More importantly, we were challenged and enlightened by how environmental laws are made to solve critical environmental situations through session on the Philippine Environmental Laws and Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs).
We were then trained on how to become a leader, an environmental steward and prepare project proposals for developing a sustainable community project in Naujan Lake National Park that will encourage community participation, drive social change and to empower people.
In short, we will be a mobilizer through the help of Haribon, USAID, DENR and the government of Oriental Mindoro. There are 10 entries prepared by 27 participants, after which critical judging through presentation and on the spot question and answer by the judges and trainees, three projects emerged to be the best among the rest.
Our project entitled “NGP Inventory on Mother Trees as Sources of Indigenous Seedlings” got First Place in Best Project Proposal Implementation, while “A Call Against Echo” of Melgar National High School and “Clean-Up Drive at Butas River-Bayani Naujan” of San Agustin National High School ranked 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
My classmate Charles and I also won Best Presenters and our handmade poster was chosen Best Poster.
Lastly, we were also given the opportunity to experience the enchanting sceneries of NLNP. We’ve seen personally different kinds of birds such as Egret, Herons, Tree Sparrow, Bitterns and Tufted ducks. Another exciting activity we’ve done is the water sample testing through COD and litmus paper. The result, we learned that the oxygen supply of water in Naujan Lake is enough to sustain life in the area.
Powered by the seeds of knowledge from the four-day workshop, I can now declare that I am now a certified eco-ranger ready to protect and conserve the biodiversity of the Naujan Lake National Park.