I’m Gregorio E. dela Rosa, Jr. but people usually refer to me as Ditto. I have been working as a research specialist for Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Nature since 2006. Haribon Foundation is the oldest biodiversity conservation organization in the Philippines, established in 1972. The name ‘Haribon’ comes from the Filipino words Haring Ibon which translates to ‘King of Birds’ and refers to the Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), our national bird. I assist local governments, community organizations and partner non-government organizations implement terrestrial and marine conservation plans in several Important Biodiversity Areas in the Philippines. Specifically, I assist the local government and fishers in conducting marine protected area monitoring through participatory research and by feeding back its results. I also assist them in creating their comprehensive land and water use plans to improve management of terrestrial and coastal resources such as identifying restoration areas and critical habitats.
As one of the first EDGE Corals Fellows, I’m working on conserving the three EDGE coral flagship species for the Coral Triangle. These are the mushroom coral (Heliofungia actiniformis), elegance coral (Catalaphylla jardinei) and bubble coral (Physogyra lichtensteini). In addition, I will carry out in-depth research on the mushroom coral. My fellowship involves determining the status and threats of the coral reefs of Burdeos while determining the presence or absence of the three EDGE corals; determining the abundance and density of the mushroom coral; increasing awareness of the three EDGE corals as flagship species for conservation at the local and national level; and strengthening the coastal resource management plans of Burdeos to the benefit of the three EDGE corals species.
The municipality of Burdeos is located in Northeastern Philippines, facing the Pacific Ocean. It is under the political jurisdiction of the province of Quezon. Burdeos is one of the five municipalities that make up the Polillo Group of Islands which includes Polillo, Patnanungan, Panukulan and Jomalig. Burdeos is roughly 40 kilometers from the mainland of Luzon, one of the biggest islands in the country. The area is being proposed as a Marine Key Biodiversity Area under the Philippine Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan due to the presence of sharks, napoleon wrasse and marine mammals such as the dugong, whales and dolphins among others.
I’m really excited about my EDGE Fellowship and EDGE corals project. The fellowship will enable me to network with experts on my field. The training course last July 2011 at the Hoga Research Station in Indonesia has already provided me with a network of experts and insights that will enable me to implement the EDGE coral project in Burdeos. The training course has further strengthened my knowledge in coral reef ecology and research. It has provided me with an immense opportunity to share knowledge with my organization and our partners, both at the local and national levels. In addition, the learning materials will strengthen my capacity and the conservation work of Haribon Foundation. This will increase the science-based knowledge that I can provide to the local government and community in Burdeos in order to improve the management and status of the coastal and marine resources. I can’t wait to get things underway!