The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) shifts its focus from disaster mitigation and prevention to the Philippines’ environment and natural resources.
Since middle of last year, the government agency has been leveraging technology for forest protection, production of high value crops, and discovery of renewable energy sources via a billion-peso program of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), one of its attached agencies.
With Executive Director Dr. Cristina Guevara at its helm, PCIEERD has five projects underway, following the transformation of the Disaster Risk Exposure and Assessment for Mitigation 3D Mapping and Flood Modeling Project and its Light Detection and Ranging technology (DREAM-LiDAR) to Philippine LiDAR (PHIL-LiDAR) I and II.
The projects, based on information that Manila Bulletin gathered from PCIEERD information unit’s Senior Science Research Specialist Maria Elena Talingdan and PHIL-LiDAR II’s Engr. Charmaine Cruz, are:
Project 1, Agricultural Resources Extraction from LiDAR Surveys (ParMap) under Dr. Ariel Blanco;
Project 2, Aquatic Resources Extraction from LiDAR Surveys (CoastMap), Engr. Ayin Tamondong;
Project 3, Forest Resource Extraction from LiDAR Surverys (FRExLS), Dr. Enrico Paringit;
Project 4, Development of the Philippine Hydrologic Dataset (PHD) for Watersheds from LiDAR Surveys, Engr. Anjilyn Mae Perez; and
Project 5, Philippine Renewable Energy Resources Mapping from LiDAR Surveys (REMaps), Engr. Ma. Rosario Concepcion Ang.
The projects commenced in July 2014, and are expected to be completed in 2017. They were designed to come up with detailed maps of the country’s resources to be used for various applications, such as irrigation assessment and aquaculture production, along with expected results mentioned earlier.
Fifteen state universities and colleges and higher education institutions nationwide are implementing the projects through a memorandum of agreement with DOST-PCIEERD.
DREAM was the biggest of the nine components of Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (Project NOAH), which is one of PCIEERD’s biggest undertakings. It had a budget of P1.6 billion from 2012 to 2014 and covered the country’s 18 major river systems.
DOST, in coordination with other government agencies and the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, created Project NOAH on President Benigno S. Aquino III’s directive following the devastation caused by Typhoon “Sendong” in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City in December, 2011.
DOST Secretary Mario Go Montejo immediately tapped local scientists, engineers, and researchers and some government agencies to comply with the directive to create a science and technology-based, real-time early flood warning system to save lives and properties.
Six months later, on July 6, 2012, Aquino and Montejo formally launched Project NOAH along the banks, appropriately enough, of the flood-prone Marikina River in Marikina City.
Through DREAM-LiDAR, DOST has produced over 5,000 3D Flood Hazard Maps for those river basins to serve as source of information on safe and risky areas in a particular community.
For the DOST-directed PHIL-LiDAR, PCIEERD allotted a budget of P1.4 billion from 2014-2016.
PHIL-LiDAR I continues to produce 3D Flood Hazard Maps, this time for the country’s nearly 300 minor river basins also for early flood warning, similar to those of the 18 major river systems.
Dubbed the Nationwide Detailed Resources Assessment using LiDAR (NDRA-LiDAR), PHIL-LiDAR II has branched into the country’s natural resources, such as agriculture, forest, coastal marine, water, and renewable energy, with five new projects under the PHIL-LiDAR II Program “aimed at providing detailed assessment of the natural resources of the Philippines,” according to PCIEERD.
PHIL-LiDAR II aims to produce high-resolution national resource maps using LiDAR and other remote sensing data, come up with vulnerability assessment maps for high-value crops and coastal resources, and formulate recommendations to help address future local supply and demand in agriculture, coastal, forest, and renewable resources.
Various government agencies benefit from PHIL-LiDAR II’s products or outputs, among them are the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, which are both DOST-attached agencies; the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Public Works and Highways; the National Irrigation Administration; the Office of Civil Defense-National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council; and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
“LiDAR is a technology that we are committed to advance; it’s a state-of-the-art technology. Right now, our capacity-building is paying off, in terms of actual products that are being produced, specifically, for example, the multi-hazards data and assessment that we get from [it],” Montejo said. “We continue to advance this technology by way of coming up with more tools and applications that will directly benefit our country and meet the challenges.”