Participants from CENRO Bangui, CENRO Laoag, and PENRO Ilocos with the For. John Rommel Manahan, For. Analiza Diaz, PENRO Victor Dabalos, and Dr. Jose Alan Castillo during the last day of the training on Bamboo Resources Inventory, Distribution Mapping, and Site-Suitability Mapping.

Bamboo is one resource that is valued nowadays, particularly in the fight against climate change.  This is due to its rapid growth, abundance, and strength, on top of its multiple uses in the daily lives of Filipinos. In 2020, it was declared a high-value crop by the Department of Agriculture and has long been utilized as one of the alternatives to wood. Due to its multiple benefits, bamboo was added to the expanded national greening program of the government. However, data on the number and distribution of bamboo in the Philippines was found to be fragmented and insufficient.

After completing their study in Pangasinan in 2021, Dr. Jose Allan A. Castillo, For. John Rommel Manahan, and the rest of their team at ERDB developed techniques to inventory bamboo, map their distribution and identify specific sites suitable for plantation. With the study’s success, they saw it critical to extend this technology to its target users, the DENR field offices.

In the same year, DENR Administrative Order No. 2021-26, which provides the guidelines for bamboo planting, harvesting, and transportation, was published.  Section 14 states that “an integrated bamboo information network system shall be developed by the Department through the Forest Management Bureau in coordination with various government agencies, private sectors, and other concerned stakeholders to address the issue of the availability of data on bamboo resources.”

Dr. Jose Alan Castillo shares the learning objectives of each topic before proceeding with the module.

With that in mind, DENR-ERDB scientist and project leader Dr. Jose Alan A. Castillo taught the participants the procedures for collecting data and inventory bamboo clumps in the field, the various considerations in identifying the age of the bamboo culms, and the steps in generating tables and graphs based on the collected information. Participants experienced actual field data collection and data analysis shortly after the lectures.

In another module, Dr. Castillo shared the steps for mapping the bamboo plots using satellite

imagery under the Google Earth Engine Cloud-Computing Platform. For. John Rommel Manahan then discussed identifying the sites suited for growing Bambusa blumeana, or Kawayang Tinik, based on annual mean rainfall, soil type, slope, and elevation. Maps showing the distribution of bamboo in their area and the site suitable for the identified species were also generated during the hands-on activity.

As added information, Dr. Castillo also introduced the attendees to the online platform Global Forest Watch as a beneficial tool for monitoring the natural resources and other activities within their areas of jurisdiction.

With the added information from the lectures, participants conducted the field data collection from the bamboo clumps within the Paoay Lake Natural Park and generated tables and maps from the data collected.

The training was made possible through the funding of the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD). For. Analiza Diaz from the DOST-PCAARRD Technology Transfer and Promotion Division (TTPD) was also present throughout the four-day training. During her closing remarks, she inspired the participants to take home the knowledge and skills acquired from the training and use it as one of the tools to manage the environment and natural resources better.

 “With the advent of the internet and global connectedness, we have to ensure that no one will be left behind… Malaking pasasalamat natin sa grupo ng ERDB kasi sila yung bumaba sa field para magbigay ng kanilang kaalaman. Thank you, ERDB, for unselfishly sharing your knowledge with us.”, For. Diaz said.

DENR Ilocos Norte Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer For. Victor Dabalos expressed during his message that he initially mistook the session for another tutorial on propagating bamboo. But later on, he assured the participants that it deviates from the usual bamboo training more commonly known by the general public and was specifically tailored for the field staff of the DENR, especially in support of the National Greening Program.

DENR Ilocos PENRO Victor Dabalos assures ERDB of the immediate application of the acquired knowledge from the training during his message on the last day of the learning event.

PENRO Dabalos also told the ERD team that the DENR in Ilocos Norte is about to begin conducting the inventory of bamboo in their areas, and this training is exactly what they needed to accomplish this task. “Hindi namin masusuklian ang mga idinagdag nyong kaalaman”, PENRO Dabalos expressed his gratitude in Ilokano.

The ERDB team who organized and facilitated the training in Ilocos also included For. Alvin Gestiada, Mr. Sedric Caliwagan, Ms. Mhelissa Ann Dorado, Ms. Marcia Santillan from the Coastal Zone and Freshwater Ecosystem Research Division, and Ms. Jonah Nuisa DT. Garcia of the Technology Transfer Division.

Since 2022, Dr. Castillo’s team has capacitated seven (7) DENR offices including CENRO Alaminos (November 21-25, 2022), CENRO Urdaneta (December 5-9, 2022), and CENRO Dagupan (December 12-15, 2022) in the province of Pangasinan, PENRO Rizal (June 20-23, 2023 Batch 1, July 4-7, 2023 Batch 2) in the province of Rizal, and CENRO Bangui, CENRO Laoag, and PENRO Ilocos Norte (August 22-25, 2023) in the province of Ilocos Norte.   In total, 109 DENR employees now have the additional skills necessary to manage the bamboo resources in their local communities.