25th Annual Philippine Biodiversity Symposium

by Willem Van de Ven

The 25th annual Philippine Biodiversity Symposium was held from April 5 to 9  in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. This event, organized by the Biodiversity Conservation Society of the Philippines, is celebrated in a different city each year, and this year was hosted by the Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc (MBCFI) and the City Government of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro.

It was a full and busy week, and the weather was hot and humid as often in April. The reason it is held at this time of year is because of the schedule of most schools, to try to encourage as many students as possible to attend the symposium. Around 300 participants travelled to Mindoro to participate in four days of scientific presentations, networking, workshops, breakout sessions, fellowship and other activities.

Several members of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines usually attend, and so I ran into my fellow board members JC Gonzalez, Pol Carino and Joni Acay, and also co-organizer Bob Natural of MBCFI.

Because this was the 25th time the symposium was organized, some special events were organized, among these the parade with a number of mascots maintained by several of the conservation organizations. Of course Nikdye and me tried to get a photo with all of the birds present; Isa the Isabela Oriole, Papan the Philippine Duck, a Mindoro Bleeding-heart Pigeon, Calayan Rail and Visayan Writhed Hornbill.

With ORIS mascot Isa the Isabela Oriole at the institutional poster presentations

With ORIS mascot Isa the Isabela Oriole at the institutional poster presentations

With Papan the Philipppine Duck mascot of B+WISER

With Papan the Philipppine Duck mascot of B+WISER

With the Mindoro Bleeding Heart mascot of MBCFI

With the Mindoro Bleeding Heart mascot of MBCFI

With the Calayan Rail mascot of ISLA

With the Calayan Rail mascot of ISLA

As part of the board, I was involved with organizing this symposium. I also gave a talk on hunting of birds, and co-organized two workshops. Two items on the agenda are of special interest to club members; the Philippine Red List and the ethical birding guidelines.

  • Since the symposium last year in Samar (April 2015) we’ve been trying to update the existing National List of Endangered Fauna, which was last done in 2004 (DAO 2004-15). The DENR-BMB gathered a team of experts under the Philippine Red List Committee. JC Gonzalez is one of the experts, as is Carmela Española. To assist this group, the BCSP provided the Technical Working Group; members of the BCSP community who were willing to help assess as many fauna species as possible. I am the WBCP representative in the subcommittee on birds for this group, and have been communicating with other club members over the past year in this capacity.

The list is almost done now, and the general public and participants of the BCSP were invited to take a look at the list, comment on it and give recommendations for changes. After the meeting all the comments will be incorporated and the list will be checked by quality control. Then, hopefully in June, the list will be posted online on the BMB website for one month for anyone else to see and be able to comment on.

  • Secondly there was also a follow up meeting of the birding ethics workshop, or the birdwatching and bird photography protocols and guidelines. As this was attended by members of the conservation community, and no extreme members of either group were present. We were able to make a lot of headway and the Technical Bulletin is now almost finished. Several assignments were given to specific people, and we hope to be able to finish this all before long.

So all in all a very productive week in Mindoro, with friendships renewed, many things learned, workshops held and projects advanced. It is not yet certain where the following symposium will be held, but PCSD in Palawan and Ateneo de Manila both indicated their interest to host the 26th annual PBS. Hope to see you all there next year!

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