In an effort to ensure smooth connection and facilitate a dynamic Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Research, Development, and Extension (RDE) functions of the newly established DENR Negros Island Region (NIR), Dr. Alicia L. Lustica, OIC Center Head of the Biodiversity, Coastal, Wetlands, and Ecotourism Research Center (BCWERC) paid a courtesy visit to DENR NIR office last January 15, 2016. NIR is the 18th region in the Visayas Island composed of the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, which includes the highly urbanized City of Bacolod. NIR RDE functions will now be directly under the BCWERC, which comprises Regions, 6, 7, and 8, respectively.

Dr. Lustica met with the newly installed Regional Director of DENR NIR, Al O. Orolfo to discuss the potential RDE respective structure, functions, and logistics for the full implementation of the newly established region. Discussion focused on how BCWERC will be providing technical assistance on the RDE needs of NIR, known as the pioneering region in terms of “One Island – One Diversity.”

For the meantime, both officials have agreed upon that the OIC, Station Head from Region 6 will be the one to oversee the RDE projects and activities of NIR. RD Orolfo suggested that BCWERC should extend technical assistance in the conduct of RDE projects such as the GIS and Vulnerability Assessment to Small Islands with Ecotourism Potentials, Biodiversity Profiling and Carrying Capacity Determination of Priority Nature-Based Ecotourism Areas, and the Payment of Environmental Services (PES)/Valuation Studies in North Negros Natural Park and Don Salvador Benedicto. He also expects BCWERC to work closely with NIR in the documentation of the Bago River (Wetland) activities for consideration in the RAMSAR and projects leading to the rehabilitation and restoration of the Bago River Watershed, haven to some species, considered vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Discussion also highlighted the possibility of requesting/allotting an area for demonstration of ENR technologies in the region.

DENR NIR and BCWERC officials are keen to closely work together to establish a collaborative and strong network for knowledge information and exchange on research, development, and extension. Both officials are hopeful for the realization of the mission and vision of the newly created region. Ann F. Jumawan, BCWERC