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Social Forestry Champion recognized with SEARCA Outstanding Alumni Award

  • 20 October 2016

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A straight path with crooked lines. That’s how Dr. Lucrecio L. Rebugio describes his educational learning journey, which eventually led to his illustrious career in social forestry.  Dr. Rebugio received his PhD in Community Development from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in 1977, which he completed through the SEARCA scholarship program.

As Professor Emeritus of Social Forestry and Forest Governance of UPLB, Dr. Rebugio is considered as the major prime-mover in advancing social forestry education in the Philippines and also in other Asian countries. His more than 37 years of service in UPLB is marked by former students who are now leaders, academicians, and scientists both in the Philippines and abroad, and his numerous scholarly publications.

As a pioneer of human resource economics in forestry, three of his papers, namely: Social Forestry: For What and For Whom, Social Forestry as a Resource System, and Social Forestry as a Development Program, remain to be among the major references in social forestry in the Philippines.

His lecture on paradigms and their relationship to forestry and the environment has inspired major policy and program reforms in forestry towards a more holistic and integrated approach on the technical and social aspect of natural resources management.

Internationally, Dr. Rebugio was a Research Fellow at the East-West Center Environment and Policy Institute in Hawaii from August to December 1984, where he made noteworthy initiatives in advancing the discipline and practice of social forestry through pioneering research. Dr. Rebugio also served as Visiting Associate Professor in Tropical Forest Sociology at Yale University, where he developed and taught the maiden offering of the graduate course on Comparative Social Forestry during the Spring Semester of 1984. Most of his students went on to serve as social forestry consultants in Asia and Africa. To this day, the course is still one of the most popular graduate courses drawing both local and foreign graduate students.

Also worth noting is Dr. Rebugio’s role as Chief Technical Adviser in establishing the Bachelor of Science in Forestry curriculum of Chittagong University in Bangladesh, and laying the groundwork for the development of its Institute of Forestry into the Institute of Forestry and Environmental Science (IFES).

As one of the key personalities in the foundation of social forestry in the country, it was under his leadership that the UPLB College of Forestry was transformed into the College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR), preparing the college to be more responsive to the forestry education challenges of the 21st century.

For his significant contribution in championing the role of social forestry in sustainable natural resources management, Dr. Rebugio is bestowed the Outstanding SEARCA Scholarship Alumni award.  The award gives recognition to SEARCA’s graduate alumni who have personified SEARCA’s values and philosophy and have distinguished themselves through their personal achievements, professional accomplishments, public service, and other meritorious endeavors. This is the first time since its establishment that SEARCA will be giving such prestigious recognition to its alumni, who it considers as ambassadors for agriculture and rural development in the region. Dr. Rebugio and 10 other OSSA laureates will be awarded during SEARCA’s golden anniversary celebration on 25 November 2016.