Three faculty members of the Visayas State University System (VSU) participated in the international training course on “Valuing Regulating Ecosystem Services in Southeast Asia” held on January 5-8, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  The VSU participants were: Dr. Moises Neil Seriño and Ms. Zyra May Centino of the Department of Economics of VSU Main Campus, and Mr. Jayson Baldesco of VSU-Alangalang Campus.

The training course was jointly organized by the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA) and the WorldFish. The 33 participants comprised of environmental economists, researchers, consultants, and professors from the Asia Pacific region were from Australia (1), Cambodia (2), China (4), Indonesia (7), Malaysia (6), Philippines (5), Thailand (2), and Vietnam (6).

The other participants from the Philippines were Dr. Canesio Predo, a VSU alumnus who is now connected with the University of the Philippines Los Baños, and Mr. Julie Carl Ureta from Resources, Environment and Economics Center for Studies, Inc. (REECS).

The four-day training course focused on regulating services supplied by forests, including mangroves, such as water purification, water regulation (flood and drought mitigation); and in the case of mangroves, storm protection and increased productivity of fisheries. The course covered both theories and methods related to valuation of ecosystem services.

According to Dr. Seriño, the training started with discussions on ecological principles that are important for understanding how changes in ecosystems affect the supply of regulating services. “The course also honed the participants’ econometric skills in estimating different functions through a series of hands-on exercises based on real-life datasets using Stata software,” Dr. Seriño said.  He further said that the remaining days focused on learning the relationships among production functions, cost functions, and profit functions as conceptual approaches for valuing regulating services.  The training also involved field trips to relevant areas of interests such as recreational forest, watershed, dam, and water treatment plant.

The participants were also given the chance to present their research ideas with the possibility of funding once a complete proposal will be materialized. The group of Dr. Seriño and Ms. Centino presented a proposal on valuing the protection service provided by mangroves in the typhoon-hit areas in the Philippines.

Along with four other resource persons, the training course was mainly facilitated by Dr. Jeffrey Vincent from the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University, North Carolina, USA.