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Ilocos academe houses biggest eco park in N. Luzon

Northwestern University Laoag, Ilocos Norte (Photo courtesy of adventuresofabeautyqueen.com)

Northwestern University Laoag, Ilocos Norte (Photo courtesy of adventuresofabeautyqueen.com)

Laoag City – The Northwestern University (NWU) has put up its own ecotourism park and botanical garden which could be the biggest ecological park established in Northern Luzon’s academe.

Michael Calaramo, the director of the Northwestern University-Ecotourism Park and Botanic Garden (NUEBG), the garden was realized as part of the corporate social responsibilities (CSRs) of the university to preserve the nearly extinct species of plants all over the world.

The primary objective for establishing the botanic garden is to develop a natural environment as a venue for scientific researches.

Located on a 7.8-hectare land in Barangay Payas-Samac,  San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, the garden showcases a wide spectrum of botanical species for scientific researches and related ecological activities.

To date, the garden has more than 2,100 species of flora. The collection ranges from tropical trees, flowering ornamental, dessert-succulent plants, ferns and allies, grasses and its allies, wild flowers, vines, parasitic, carnivorous, epiphytes, cycads and palms, crops and variegated cultivars.

Aside from Philippine endemic plants, the garden also boasts of foreign plant species that have adapted to the Philippine climatic condition.

“Due to its registration with the international agenda for plant conservation, the collections are only for conservation and not for sale or to be given away,” said Calaramo.

The NUEBG follows several structures, protocols, and conventions on the establishment of botanic gardens.

“It is also called a systematic garden because of its systematically arranged botanic specimen; and it is the only garden that is classified into a system with DNA-based systematic classification of plants,” he said.

The NUEBG is a member of the Botanic Garden Conversation International (BGCI), the world’s largest plant conservation network which aims to collect, conserve, characterize and cultivate samples from all of the world’s plants as an insurance policy against their extinction in the wild and as a source of plant material for human innovation, adaptation, and resilience.

He explained the BGCI evaluates annually the collection in the NUEBG wherein every botanic garden that participates in global strategy plant conservation program will submit an annual list of updated and recorded plant specimen.

Moreover, the botanic garden also aims to maintain its integrity as a model for community development.

The garden offers a herbarium and a garden theater wherein outdoor trainings and classes are being held.

The NUEBG also converted its conference hall into a Museum of Natural History that exhibits a wide array of mollusks, insects, reptiles, mammals, fishes, rocks, and minerals including corals.

Aside from its scientific aspect, the garden’s visitors may also enjoy recreational activities that are closely linked to the study of natural history and wildlife such as bird watching, butterfly watching, nature photography, mountain biking and other recreations like camping.

Calaramo noted that the NUEBG is distinct from other tourist destinations in the province due to its wide range of eye-catching natural features.