- Develop science-based technologies and solutions to complex and interconnected problems in natural resources management and environmental protection;
- Facilitate the mainstreaming of INREM in academic, RDE and other relevant institutions;
- Influence policy and institutional reforms in natural resources management and environmental protection; and
- Educate and engage the general public on INREM-related issues and concerns.
The INREM Center is envisioned to become a world-class Center of Excellence in natural resources management and environmental protection through research and development, and public service.
The Philippines’s natural resources and environment remain to be under enormous threat. After World War II, forests have continued to decline due to small-scale illegal logging, an important source of livelihood for many upland communities. Likewise, watersheds have deteriorated as a result of population pressures, putting a lot of stress on the soil and water resources, including the forest cover. Consequently, the Philippines is regarded as one of the critical hotspots, with more than 800 of its plant and animal species threatened with extinction. Furthermore, as forest cover dwindles because of unregulated cultivation and illegal harvesting of timber, soil erosion worsens along with the downstream siltation of rivers, lakes, reservoirs, farms, coastal and marine ecosystems. Most rivers and lakes are highly polluted as people establish houses around these bodies of water and as industries emit organic matter and chemical and heavy metal pollutants into them, contributing to declining fish productivity. In a similar vein, most of the coral reef areas in the country, the second largest in Southeast Asia, are suffering from overexploitation due to the rapid growth of population in coastal areas (Spalding, et al., 2001). In addition, many mangrove forests in the Philippines have suffered from massive conversion into fishponds.
Complex and interrelated factors have driven the country’s various natural resources to its current degraded state. Upland watershed areas are critical to the sustainability of resources and ecosystems located downstream. Once the upland areas are degraded after the removal of forest cover, soil erosion increases and water quality, distribution and amount become unpredictable that can damage lowland agricultural areas through siltation and shortage in irrigation water, diminish storage capacity of rivers, lakes, wetlands, marshlands and reservoirs, and reduce the power generation capacity of hydropower plants. Siltation coming from denuded uplands and pollution from agricultural, industrial and domestic areas that reach the coastal and marine areas can destroy corals and reduce the fishery production in the affected ecosystems.
Piece meal approach in providing solutions to the degradation of the various ecosystems has been done in the past and proved to be ineffective. A holistic approach that looks comprehensively at the direct and indirect drivers of resources degradation and how these drivers can be dealt may provide better results that are stepping stones to lasting solutions to the problems.
Given this, it is imperative that an integrated approach to natural resources and environment management (INREM) be espoused. A central tenet of the integrated approach to natural resources and environmental management is the intricate relationship between the sustainability of ecosystems and sustainability of human systems. Specifically, INREM puts forth a systemic and holistic approach to problem analysis and solving using appropriate analytical unit such as watershed/river basin, ecosystem, and landscape.
In line with UP’s vision to be an international university, the University of the Philippines Los Baños must be at the forefront of INREM study and practice in Southeast Asia. The establishment of an Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management will secure UPLB’s status as recognized leader in the discipline of INREM.
The objectives of the UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management are:
- Engage in interdisciplinary RDE projects on natural resources management and environmental protection;
- Demonstrate INREM from theory to practice;
- Engage the different institutions to practice INREM;
- Recommend INREM-based policy and institutional reforms;
- Conduct public education and communication on INREM issues and concerns;
- Develop INREM-based monitoring and evaluation systems.
Area-based Collaboration RDE
Area-based Collaboration RDE programs will allow the engagement of the Center to implement projects on natural resources management and environmental protection and demonstrate INREM from theory to practice.
Public Education and Capacity-building
Public Education and Capacity-building programs will enhance the understanding of practitioners and project implementers on INREM. It will include website development, books and journals publications, seminars, workshops, campaigns.
Policy and Institutional Reforms
Policy and Institutional Reforms programs will enhance the understanding of policy makers and institute reforms for INREM.
Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)
M&E programs will develop tools to be used on all INREM programs implemented by the Center, to gauge the progress and effectiveness of INREM.
Office of the Coordinator for Research, Extension, and Linkages
College of Forestry and Natural Resources
University of the Philippines Los Baños
College, Laguna 4031, Philippines