Technical and support staff of the Biodiversity, Coastal, Wetlands and Ecotourism Research Center (BCWERC) have recently convened to review the status of all Research, Development and Extension (RDE) projects including updates on financial status and administrative operations last March 17-19, 2016 at the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP), Paranas, Samar. The activity called as “1st Quarter BCWERC Learning Event on RDE Operations and Management for 2016” was primarily organized to re-evaluate the center’s various RDE activities and to harmonize strategies and approaches utilized in project implementation.

The event highlighted the presentation of RDE reports, which focused on the 1st quarter updates, issues, and concerns. OIC, Center Head of BCWERC, Dr. Alicia L. Lustica emphasized the need to provide researchers an avenue to share, discuss, obtain additional inputs, and evaluate research methodologies based on the initial status of RDE project implementation for the 1st Quarter of 2016.

“Research centers of ERDB are constantly challenged to produce significant research outputs hence, it is vital for us to determine the best approaches and immediately identify research gaps in order to come up with a realistic, doable, and valuable scientific outcomes”, Dr. Lustica said. Likewise, she challenged the BCWERC team to develop an information advocacy campaign to promote the goals, visions, and functions of the center so RDE efforts will be beneficial, recognized, and utilized by the prospective clients.

Protected Area Superintendent (PASU) of SINP, Forester Zenaida Baisa, warmly welcomed participants during the opening ceremony. She presented a brief overview of the history of SINP and its various ecotourism activities in the province. Further, the group also had the chance to learn and become acquainted with the study on Invasive Alien Species (IAS) through the special presentation from the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) headed by Dr. Edwin Tadiosa, PhD. Dr. Tadiosa presented their partial/initial survey results on the project “Invasive Alien Species on selected natural parks in the Philippines,” namely, the Sibalom Natural Park in Sibalom, Antique and the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP).

The learning event participated in by BCWERC RDE project leaders and implementers from Regions 6, 7, and 8 provided a unique experience brought by the exciting tour adventure – the Ulot River Torpedo Boat Extreme Ride at Paranas, Samar. Participants had the opportunity to experience first-hand the torpedo boat adventure ride into the rapids of the Ulot River, the longest river in the whole island of Samar. BCWERC, whose area of excellence includes biodiversity and ecotourism, considers SINP as a potential area for research and assessment activities in terms of ecotourism services and resources, perception and attitude of stakeholders towards sustainable management of the site, etc. SINP located within the protected area is rich in biodiversity and considered as one of the country’s top botanical diversity centers. Ann F. Jumawan, BCWERC