‘Real ecotourism, like the Bohol model in Loboc River, can actually be good for Laguna Lake,” said Dr. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon, professor of the School of Environmental Science and Management and 2016 Outstanding Researcher of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
She emphasized the words “real” ecotourism as one that preserves the naturalness of the landscape or the seascape. It is not about construction of dikes or buildings.
“The idea of developing Laguna Lake, with ecotourism as a platform, could actually help bring in more jobs because old boats can engage in tours, people can produce food and handicrafts,” she said.
Currently, there are studies undertaken by the UPLB that show that water quality in the lake, in terms of biological, physical and chemical parameters, is bad. But Espaldon is hopeful there are many ways to improve the water quality.
“All that’s needed is a concerted action and strong leadership in terms of improving the water quality of the lake,” she said.
There should be an integrated management of the Laguzzz na de Bay, wherein all sectors should be engaged and responsible. Some published studies show the presence of pollutants, such as pesticides residue in the tributaries of the lake, and these can eventually find its way into the lake. Once the people become responsible and accountable, pollution can be reduced.
The good aspect of the lake, however, is the water quality. It is fresh water, so if it is of good quality, it can really be a good source for the domestic and agricultural needs.
“It is better to make it a source of water supply because if people know that it is the source of water they drink, they will not defecate in it. The water supply normally undergoes treatment process before it is released. When the lake is used as water-supply source, there will be a value formation that’s economically driven. People know that it’s valuable to them, so why would they neglect it?” Espaldon said in Filipino.
She suggested that the local governments should be more empowered in managing their rivers to help improve the water that goes to the lake.
These are just some of the issues confronting Laguna de Bay which the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) aims to address in its Science and Policy Forum for Sustainable Laguna Lake Management. The forum, which will be a gathering of fishermen, farmers, environmental experts in the academic, administrative and legislative sectors is NRCP’s activity for the five-day celebration of the 2016 National Biotechnology Week.