Since its establishment in the year 1990, Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research (INECAR) of Ateneo de Naga University has been in the forefront of environmental conservation and research in the Bicol Region. INECAR was formed through the efforts of former president Fr. Raul Bonoan, SJ, unknowingly transforming a shapeless group of student organizations and science faculties working for environmental conservation into a named institution. Under Dr. Emelina Regis, the INECAR continue to expand since year 2000.
As a leading environmental organization, it has exhibited commitment to the conservation of the environment, integrity, pro-people initiatives, and creative dissemination of environmental awareness in the region.
The INECAR has maintained its scientific and technical integrity through evidence-based analysis, tools for assessment, method for research, investigation policy reforms, and position papers on the environmental concerns faced by Bicol Region. INECAR also conducts environmental awareness seminars and forums to increase awareness and capacities of communities, local government units, schools and non-government organization regarding the processes in the environment and its problems. To effectively communicate environmental messages, INECAR is also tapping various creative approaches in environmental education, such as environmental plays, and enrichment and exposure trips.
The institution has also been consistent in pro-people research and advocacy for the environment. INECAR’s papers, studies and researches helped communities affected by environmental problems by providing concrete evidences, helping them on further advancing the people’s movement for their rights.
One of the most recognized advocacies of the institute is its strong opposition against the large-scale mining project in the small island of Rapu-rapu in Albay.
As an institute dedicated for environmental conservation and protection, INECAR, backed by the Ateneo de Naga University, stood firm against the mining project in Rapu-rapu Island. Since year 2000, even before the commencement of the project, and up to its current rehabilitation, INECAR provided baselines and technical studies on the impacts of the large scale mining in Rapu-Rapu Island, including vigorous documentation of the ill impacts of mining in the environment, health and socio-economic situation of people in affected communities. Recommending for the immediate closure of the mines, these studies served as basis for the Position Paper of Ateneo de Naga University, No Mining in the Island of Rapu-Rapu: Close Lafayette Mine.
INECAR’s position and studies also served as a concrete and objective basis for the advancement of campaigns and people’s movement against the said project. INECAR has released several position papers against mining in Rapu-rapu. It also produced guides in assessing environmental impacts such as new methods for detecting heavy metals in mining sites. The institute also challenged technical studies and government issuances that lack technical credibility and put the lives of residents and the ecosystems in danger.
In pushing forward for people’s rights and mining policy reform, INECAR also led the gathering of local communities, academe, Church, and local government units in the regional consultation on mining in Bicol. The participants have drafted policy recommendations on the regulation and compliance with the law of mining companies, taxation, monitoring, sustainable development and healthy ecology and critiques on Mining Act of 1995.
Aside from Rapu-rapu Island, INECAR also conducted monitoring and assessment studies for Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur, effects of Acid Mine Drainage on Mogpog River Ecosystem in Marinduque and possible impacts on communities and others.
The institute also released several position papers on the various environmentally critical projects such as the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam Project (LCDP) in Lupi and Sipocot, Camarines Sur, and mining in Palawan and similar islands in the Philippines, among others. Twenty five years after its establishment, the INECAR still continue to commit itself on protecting the environment and disseminating environmental awareness in the Bicol Region through expanding its programs in environmental research, advocacy and conservation.