B+WISER prioritizes research in the Philippines
A USAID-funded project to improve watersheds and biodiversity has prioritized 67 research ideas
By Bhen Aguihon
Sixty-seven research ideas were presented at the National Workshop on Research and Development Agenda organized by the Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) project, held on 8 October 2014 in Quezon City, Philippines.
Funded by the United States Agency for International Development, the project is co-implemented by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Philippines, which was represented at the workshop by researchers Dr Florencia Pulhin and Mr Bhen Aguihon.
Of the 67 ideas, 60 were categorized into six domains—climate change, biodiversity, watershed, political and institutional, socio-economic, financial—while seven remained uncategorized.
The prioritization, which amounted to a research agenda, was assessed by 17 evaluators from various national government agencies and academe. Criteria used to assess the ideas were urgency (9%), scalability or replicability (9%), commonality or duplication (9%), attainability within program lifetime (9%), sustainability (14%), responsiveness to various development plans (25%), and integrative across concerns in biodiversity, watershed and climate change (25%). The top research ideas will be developed into studies as part of the B+WISER project.
Research under B+WISER is expected to address immediate environmental pressures and lead to a decrease in harm from the frequency and severity of extreme disasters (urgency). Examples are assessment studies on highly vulnerable regions inside protected areas and watersheds. Scalability entails technology-based and program-based assessment research that streamline best practices that can then be implemented in other watersheds. Commonality refers to ideas that are not researched very much and which would extend the knowledge of other topic domains. The chosen research must also deliver by 2017 (attainability). A sustainable research idea is one that long-term research activities could be built upon. In addition, the research must be of good use to the public as technical input for development plans and socio-environmental policies (responsiveness to development plans). Research had also to articulate an integrated framework and relationships among biodiversity, watersheds and climate change (integrative).
Top priority research ideas
Studies in the political and institutional realm (that is, assessment research of protected areas, particularly on the impact of encroachment and the effectiveness of government management) were given the top priority. Understanding the relationships between migration, industrialization and modernization within a watershed was considered vital in refining environmental law enforcement.
Climate-change studies included identification of vulnerable areas, changes in hydrologic dynamics, appraisal of adaptation strategies and integrated local development planning. Biodiversity and watershed studies will focus on species’ suitability, forest degradation and rehabilitation.
Research implementation will start in 2015. ICRAF Philippines takes the lead role in this component B+WISER.
The role of B+WISER in watershed, climate-change and environmental management
The B+WISER project, which is led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, started in 2012 and will end in 2017. It is implemented by Chemonics International, Flora and Fauna International, Haribon Foundation and ICRAF Philippines.
B+WISER targets watershed, climate-change and environmental management with seven priority sites across the Philippines. The researchers are carrying out pioneering work on safeguards in schemes to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus conservation (REDD+), a greenhouse-gas inventory, payments for ecosystem services and biodiversity assessments.
To make watershed management a key in sustainable upland development, it is important to undertake social and technical research that provides sound guidance on selecting appropriate interventions. Also, assessment research will help ascertain the effectiveness or otherwise of the interventions and provide an objective position based for further studies.
Moreover, the implementation of research and development related to biodiversity and watersheds are fundamental ‘sub-intermediate’ results (also considered as performance indicators) in achieving two of the major immediate results of B+WISER, that is, 1) biodiversity in forest areas conserved; and 2) forest degradation in targeted priority watershed reduced.
B+WISER has four goals: 1) Conservation of biodiversity in forest areas; 2) Reduction of forest degradation in priority watersheds; 3) Enhancing capacity to conserve biodiversity, manage forests, and monitor low-emissions development; and(4) Increasing capacity for disaster management in highly vulnerable areas.
This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry