University of the Philippines Los Baños

Her researches have helped us build our defenses against environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, and increased vulnerability to environmental risks and hazards.

Hence, for Dr. Damasa “Demi” Magcale-Macandog, professor at the Institute of Biological Sciences, the 2014 Environmental Science Award of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) is well deserved.

In particular, Dr. Macandog was recognized for leading a multidisciplinary research program that looked into various issues on the linkage between environmental degradation of the country’s largest freshwater body, Laguna de Bay, and food and human health.

The Laguna LakeHEAD Program on Managing Environmental Risks for Sustainable Food and Health Security in Watershed Planning in Laguna Lake Region found that pollution caused by urbanization and development have degraded the environment in Laguna Lake. Hence, she and her team have recommended strategies to rehabilitate the lake and to address the problem to prevent dire impacts on public health and food security.

Currently, a project component of the nationwide program “Detailed Resources Assessment Using Light Detection and Ranging (Phil-LiDAR-2)” is keeping Dr. Macandog busy.

Phil-LiDAR-2 is a DOST-UP-led project that is an offshoot of the projects Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation (DREAM) and Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (Project NOAH). Dr. Macandog’s team will process enormous amounts of data collected by LIDAR to come up with detailed maps of agriculture, coastal, forest, water, and renewable energy resources.

Information about these resources, including their location, characteristics, status, exposure to vulnerabilities and hazards, and recommendations for protection and conservation can provide government agencies and LGUs inputs for planning and decision making.

Dr. Macandog and her team is also developing the Makiling Biodiversity Information System (Makibis), an online portal that documents biodiversity in Mt. Makiling. Makibis has become a prototype for the Banahaw Biodiversity Information System and the Philippine Biodiversity Information System.

She has studied the effect of muyong forests to the terrace paddies in the Ifugao Rice Terraces , a World Heritage Site and established databases of plant species found in the terraces. Her findings are invaluable for people working for the long term sustainability of the site.

Dr. Macandog has studied how biomass estimation of secondary forests in Southeast Asia could be made more accurate estimates of productivity and of changes in productivity due to population pressure and extreme climatic conditions. Biomass estimation is important in determining the amount of carbon stocks in the forests and the amount of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere due to biomass reduction.

She has contributed to methodological improvements in livelihood vulnerability studies with the use of GIS applications, multilevel livelihood vulnerability assessment, and agent based modeling. Further, she and her team has conducted studies to develop the following: a fishkill early warning system; a criteria for an ecologically, socially, and economically sound transition to bioenergy use; and an accounting of transboundary movement and waste input in the Philippines.

Dr. Macandog is truly an environmental science warrior building up science-based knowledge as our defense in this war against environmental degradation.