Wetland Bioblitz, what does it mean? That’s the first question that entered my mind when my immediate supervisor asked me to join and assist for this activity. I know wetland is an ecosystem wherein land is covered by water either fresh or salt water, while Bio is short for Biology which means life. How about blitz, does it mean rapid, fast, or quick? These are just few of the things that ran across my mind. As my boss informed me about what should be done for the Bioblitz, what it means, and who are the target participants, I was looking forward to learn what Wetland Bioblitz is all about.
It can be a new experience and advocacy for young people to better understand the importance of nature, our environment in general. The Wetland Bioblitz activity covered flora assessment, avifauna assessment, aquatic fauna and flora assessment, entomofauna survey, water quality assessment, hydrology, and rapid assessment of wetland ecosystems services (RAWES).
I was assigned on water quality assessment; it was really challenging since I needed to explain the process and methods in a way that the young participants will be able to understand and appreciate the importance of knowing water quality. During the brief discussion, it seemed that most of the participants were interested but there was still some confusion on how to determine water quality and how multiparameter works. Moreover, the need to evaluate assessment results and compare data gathered from the sections of the river and the water quality standards set by Environment Management Bureau (EMB) were also explained.
The best part of this wetland bioblitz was the actual field work where in participants were able to do the process on their own. They were excited to get data and use the multiparameter and handle it with care. While I was watching those young students, I remembered my high school days. I wish that I were able to experience this kind of activity at a very young age but my heart was still happy and thankful. It felt good that I was able to contribute in the local community in raising awareness on the importance of clean river water and streams, as well as how to conserve and protect our environment.
The Wetland Bioblitz is a really good activity that could be done in different communities for them to appreciate and keep the environment clean and pleasing to people, not only for their benefit but also for the future generation.
This was the very first time that I was tasked to teach students particularly High School Students in my whole life. I was hesitant and afraid at first since I remember how I acted when I was at their age during this kind of activity and was thinking is this my karma, just kidding. This was actually a great experience and looking forward to doing this again.
Wetland Bioblitz is an activity spearheaded by the Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands (SCPW). I was able to join twice out of the Three Pilot sites for the project which are located in Pangil, Lumban, and Mabitac, Laguna.
The Wetland Bioblitz activities include Learning Session about wetlands, its importance and the current efforts to conserve them; an orientation seminar on the methods to be used in the field activity; actual fieldwork which ideally should be implemented for 24 hours; data consolidation and processing; Visioning and Action Planning; and presentation to the Local Government Executives, school officials, and other partners.
During our activity in Pangil and Lumban, Laguna, we were tasked to teach students how to do Rapid Assessment of Wetland Ecosystem Services (RAWES) Approach. This method is developed by Convention on Wetlands or Ramsar Convention to assess a wetland through interviews with locals and quick observation in the area to determine the ecosystem services provided by the wetland with limited time and equipment. With my colleagues from Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Joyce Se (during Pangil) and Zoisane Lumbres and Jayson Pujeda (during Lumban), we introduced to our students what are wetlands, examples of wetlands (inland, human-made and coastal), what is ecosystem services such as Provisioning, Regulating, Cultural and Supporting Services and its importance.
After the short introduction about wetlands and ecosystem services, we provide a copy of the Manual of RAWES Approach to the students and gave them a task to identify a set of questions that they can use for each ecosystem services that they will use during the fieldwork. During the fieldwork, we instructed them that they need to interview locals as much as possible and each interview should not exceed 1 hour since we only have limited time for the activity. After the data gathering, our students were tasked to present the data collected and identify what are the important and dominant ecosystem services for the area. Also, they include the recommended next steps on conserving, maintaining and improving the ecosystem services of the area such as proper solid waste management, protection of wild flora and fauna from poaching and implementation of existing laws on environmental protection.
It was a pleasure to teach students about the importance of our environment and natural resources. Also, it was fulfilling that we were able to educate them and we also learned from them a lesson that we need to educate the young ones about environmental awareness and conservation efforts because they were the future generations who will continue the advocacy in protecting our environment particularly our wetlands.
Raichielle E. Colopano Grade 10 Lumban National High School
It was a very memorable experience. We did survey, interviews, observation of our community while the other groups were looking for different plants and animal species in our village near the river. Those activities were supposed to make us students gain more knowledge about wetlands. We were divided into different groups, wherein our group task is to interview some residents near the river. It was easy for me because I am one of those residents. We asked them about the advantages or benefits that wetlands give, also about the disadvantages. It was so nice, not only because we socialized with good people, but because of the things that we’ve learned.
Wetlands are a common scenery or part of nature for us who live near the river and the lake. But there are indirect and direct benefits that they’re giving to everyone. That makes them more valuable for all the people. I remember one activity where we had to draw what we will do if we are given a hectare of land beside a river. I drew a small nipa hut near the wetland. The nipa hut is for the livelihood program that I wanted to have, especially for the water hyacinth that is prominent in our area, that can be made into handicraft.
We, students, are so lucky to have this kind of experience and the chance to gain knowledge. The knowledge that we could share not only for our friends and family but for everyone who missed the chance to experience the BioBlitz.
I am so grateful for having such delightful experience in Bioblitz. I’ve learned and discovered new things and new lessons that I may apply in our daily life and which may also be used in the future. Because of Bioblitz, I realized how important nature was, especially the bodies of water.
Bioblitz deepened my knowledge about Laguna de Bay. It helped me to value and love nature much more. During the field work, I joined the insect group. To be honest, I really hated insects. I’d rather study plants than to prey on those little creatures.
But when we started our discussion about insects, I suddenly became interested. I learned that not all little tiny animals can be classified as insects. I became more interested when we began to walk along the river and catch some insects.
I must say I really enjoyed it. After that awesome activity, we analyzed and studied which group of insects they belong. Then we have finalized it and reported our findings in front of all those who attended the activity. I also enjoyed some games and lectures. I’ve learned a lot from those amazing activities. It was really a great and wonderful experience.
Bioblitz taught me everything about nature. If ever I would be given a chance to join Bioblitz again, I’ll definitely come to gain more knowledge. I will never get tired to experience it again and again.
Ms. Victoria R. Almario Teacher, Lumban National High School Lumban NHS-CYN Cordinator
As a Science Teacher of Lumban National High School and CLEAR Youth Network Coordinator since 2005 we participated in various wetland conservation activities with the Society for the Conservation attended with my former students in our school. For more than a decade now we have been part of these one goal and mission to protect our environment. We developed good and harmonious relationship with the other high schools in the network and with the Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands (SCPW) just one just like one big family.
This current activity which was held in our school headed by Ms. Amy M. Lecciones, Executive Director of SCPW, and supported by the Municipal Mayor of our town as well as the School Principal who also witnessed the activity and rendered support in the opening of the program.
Last February 6-8, 2019 the SCPW team conducted the “Wetlands Bioblitz” in Lumban National High School, Lumban, Laguna, with my support and participation to the project, We selected fifty (50) participants from grades 7-10 high school students. All of them have joined and actively participated in the said activity entitled, “Active, Clean and Bountiful Rivers: The Wetlands Bioblitz”.
The activities included are Learning Session in Day 1 which are all about wetlands and its importance and various ways to conserve them, Day 2 was the orientation seminar tackled by the expert and professionals, it was really a experience to all of us especially those who really loved science, nature and wetlands in particular. The most interesting was their actual field work which includes the data collection, processing and the highlight of the program was the Visioning and Action Planning of the participants which were presented to the Local Government Executives, School Officials and other concerned.
I could say that this informative and educational experiences of the participants gave them more knowledge on all living things and their roles in ecosystems. It made them appreciate nature and promoted love and care to our Mother Earth.
Being a teacher is not my thing. I was worried that I couldn’t deliver the task given to me when I participated the Wetlands BioBlitz for Lumban-Pagsanjan River on 6-8 February 2019. The task given to my group was to teach eight (8) students the Rapid Assessment of Wetlands Ecosystem Services or RAWES for short. At first, I was nervous that the student might get bored and that every words that came out from my mouth would sound alien to them.
How would I even teach RAWES to high school students?
Together with Jaymes and Pudj, we tried our very best to give a simple description of wetlands and their importance to everyday life of human. To test if the students grasped the concept of RAWES, we let them enumerate the ecosystem services of Lumban-Pagsanjan River and grouped these accordingly – provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services.
To validate the identified ecosystem services of this wetland, the students transformed it into a questionnaire and conducted interviews in three barangays surrounding the river. Their first five attempts were indeed a challenge since it was their first time to do survey and interview. They knocked door to door and got rejected by people who did not want to be interviewed. They started to feel anxious when they felt that time was running out and they hadn’t even reached half of their target respondents. Good thing about children is that they never give up easily until they learned how things work smoothly. As they went along, they gained their confidence and started to analyze the results of their RAWES.
Being part of the Wetlands BioBlitz is a one of a kind experience for me. I was a teacher for 3 days and I will consider it as an accomplishment because my students learned something from me especially on the importance of wetlands. I somehow envy these students because of this learning opportunity they had. Watching them the whole duration of Wetlands BioBlitz made me realized that learning and teaching is indeed fun and easy when you had actual application of these concepts and lectures outside the classroom.
I wish we also had Wetland BioBlitz during my high school years because it is indeed very interactive and best approach to understand and appreciate our wetlands and the ecosystem services they provide.
Carl Vincent T. Olaya Grade 12 Paagahan Integrated National High School
The wetlands bio-blitz program was enjoyable and very educational, a program that offers an on hand experience about environmental conservation was really a once in a life-time experience.
The bio-blitz program made us students aware of what it feels like to be a hydrologist, ornithologist and even an entomologist. Being a participant of the program made me realize what my role is to society. My experience on being a hydrologist was really challenging, we were asked to measure lengths and volumes of some parts of the Mabitac river and we also tested the water quality in order to clarify the condition of the river but through the help of an expert, we were able to do the task accordingly. I was able to see how important wetlands are in that activity, if the rivers were not protected, it can cause some problems that could lead to bigger disasters such as floods.
The activities of the bio-blitz have given us students the chance to re assist ourselves and see the things we need to do. The opportunity to learn from different experts and to personally interact with the living environment was really memorable. I really learned a lot and was able to understand some concepts that I can use in my studies. The knowledge I have gained on this program affected my views that caused me to change some habits that can help conserving the environment. I am really thankful that I was given the chance to be a part of this activity.