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UPD, DA, DENR and UP Beta Sigma Fraternity collaborate for UP Arboretum conservation

(left to right) Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs Prof. Melania L. Flores, National Scientist Teodulo Topacio, Rolando G. Reyes, DA Secretary Proceso Alcala, UPD Chancellor Caesar A. Saloma and Atty. Jonas Leones of DENR in a show of solidarity during the MOA signing for the conservation and protection of UP Arboretum at the Balay Tsanselor.

(March 15) — A memorandum of agreement (MOA) was entered into among UP Diliman (UPD), the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the UP Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. (UPBSFI) on February 12 to draw up and formulate a “Five and Ten-Year UP Arboretum Master Plan” for the preservation and protection of biological diversity and other ecosystem attributes of the UP Arboretum, and the development for scientific plant research and development in UPD.

At the MOA signing, Chancellor Caesar A. Saloma represented UPD, while Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and Atty. Jonas R. Leones, Head Executive Assistant at DENR Central Office, represented DA and DENR, respectively. UPBSFI was led by its president Rolando G. Reyes.

The master plan to be drawn up will be in accordance with the 2012 UPD Land Use Plan which designates the UP Arboretum, including its buffer area, as a priority protection zone.

The 17-hectare UP Arboretum, undoubtedly the only remaining Philippine urban forest in Metro Manila, is envisioned to become a National Botanical Gardens site, oriented towards science and education.

As stated in the MOA, the master plan shall “include considerations for a forest reserve area, designated stabilizing buffer zone, site specific areas for seed orchard, clonal breeding, provenance trials and technical capability training and management protocols on planting stocks (e.g. seeds, seedling or clones) and indigenous or endemic standing trees, propagation, pest and disease control, soil and microclimatic conditions, among others, including a sustained viable financing system for the UP Arboretum.”

The long-term goal of the MOA is to undertake a study that would lead to the designation of the UP Arboretum as a national historical and possibly a world heritage site.

DA and DENR shall provide the necessary technical assistance, skills training, planting materials and other forms of support to UP for the preservation and conservation of the UP Arboretum.

UPBSFI, on the other hand, shall provide the necessary expertise and financial assistance to achieve the goals and objectives of the MOA. Until the approval and implementation of the master plan, UPD for its part, “shall continue to maintain the UP Arboretum and the buffer zone, subject to its rules and regulations, including but not limited to, specific restrictions and site access.”

Witnessing the event were Teodulo Topacio, National Scientist, former dean of the UP College of Veterinary Medicine and a member of UPBSFI; Prof. Melania L. Flores, UPD Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs, Dr. Cristine DLR. Villagonzalo, UPD Office of Extension and Coordination director, and members of the UPBSFI. — ACG