Thirty-nine young individuals from over the Camarines Sur province attended the first Biodiversity Conservation and Restoration Summer Camp spearheaded by Partido State University-Caramoan Campus on July 14-24, 2023.
The 8-day activity served as an awareness-raising event focused on the essential conservation and restoration ecology methods for students, science teachers, and local researchers from the Bicol Region. It paved the way for participants to gain general and specific knowledge on the conservation and restoration ecology and the basics of fieldwork and laboratory activities through orientations, lecture discussions, and actual field/lab activity. Participants acquired skills through experiential and hands-on first-hand exposure and immersion in the methodologies and processes commonly employed during fieldwork and lab activity related to marine ecosystems.
Eight competent speakers thoroughly discussed marine resources and guided the participants during the fieldwork activities in various islands surrounding Caramoan, Camarines Sur.
Dr. Michael A. Clores, Caramoan Campus Dean, and Ms. Sarah May Querubin, an Ateneo de Naga University instructor, discussed seagrass diversity and ecology, shedding light on the vital role in fighting climate change and maintaining the planet's health. Dr. Clores addressed the conservation and restoration methods for seagrass meadows. Meanwhile, Ms. Querobin also discussed the fish and invertebrates' diversity and ecology in seagrass ecosystems. Their expertise instilled a deeper appreciation for the beauty and importance of marine life. The campers could put their knowledge into practice as a fieldwork activity at Hurandayan Beach, Guijalo, Camarines Sur followed after.
Mr. Salvador Saavedra, the Chairperson of the BS Biology Department of the College of Health Science at Naga College Foundation, discussed the exploration of the mangrove ecosystems and marine species. He shared his extensive knowledge of mangroves, their ecosystem services, and current threats. Campers set out for a fieldwork expedition at Vicente, Tabgon, Caramoan, Camarines Sur, renowned for its vast mangrove forests.
Mr. Ron Ephraim Roluna, a Master of Science in Conservation and Restoration Ecology student at the University of the Philippines-Baguio, and Mr. Ian Parone, a core faculty member of the BS BioCRE Program of ParSU-Caramoan Campus, covered enlightening sessions and engaging hands-on workshops. They gave the campers a more profound understanding of the policies and current issues surrounding mangrove ecosystems. A lecture on the Community-Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration Project was also provided, followed by a hands-on workshop on drafting proposals for a Community-Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration Project.
Mx. Eljenmer Sindo, the University Research Associate I of the PhycoPRO Project in ParSU, lectured on seaweed diversity, the significance of seaweed in marine ecosystems, and their crucial role in maintaining coastal biodiversity. He also emphasized the immense potential of seaweed ecosystems in providing food, habitat, and other valuable resources while highlighting the environmental threats they face. Following his lecture, Ms. Elluna Bigcas, a University Research Associate I of the PhycoPRO Project, discussed the standard techniques for conducting seaweed studies. She also delved into the procedures for the fieldwork, including seaweed species, identification, herbarium preparation, and seaweed diversity assessment. Participants applied techniques discussed by Ms. Bigcas as they ventured to Kalagikhik Beach, Guijalo, Caramoan, Camarines Sur.
The campers explored the coral reef ecosystem through the discussion of Ms. Diana Rose R. Pesimo, a core faculty of BS-BioCRE of ParSU-Caramoan, together with Mr. Ian Parone. The resource persons lectured on the vital roles of these underwater havens in maintaining the planet's ecological balance. Mr. Parone delivered a discussion on coral diversity and anatomy and the climate change-related issues and their implications on coral diversity and anatomy. Meanwhile, Ms. Pesimo discussed the different types of coral diseases and their causes. She then discussed the standard techniques for studying corals, followed by the coral fieldwork procedures at Paniman, Caramoan, Camarines Sur.
The Biodiversity Conservation and Restoration Summer Camp was filled with reflection, presentations, testimonials, and heartfelt farewells. The enlightening lectures and hands-on fieldwork experiences played a critical role in broadening the participants' knowledge about the importance of biodiversity and the urgency of its conservation and restoration.
The event is in line with the goals of the Futures Thinking Program and Initiatives of the University, which is to "promote sustainable behaviors among people, with these desired behaviors strategically integrated with science, culture, education, technology and the arts through capacity building."