For the past days we have witnessed how heavy downpours have affected our daily lives. Many areas in the metropolis were flooded, and once more the importance of trees comes to mind. Flood mitigation after all, is among the many functions of trees particularly the protection of critical watersheds.
I am reminded of former President Fidel V. Ramos who said “too much water during the rainy season and too little water during summer has become our sad fate of yearly cycles of inundation and drought.” We have to join hands and ensure there is sufficient water supply when and where it is needed. Unfortunately despite the heavy rains, mild El Nino has also set in.
The Million Trees Foundation, Inc. (MTFI) recognizes reforestation as a means to ensure sustainable water supply. It is committed to build on the gains of the Annual Million Trees Challenge (AMTC) program started by MWSS and the green revolution of planting trees includes in the coming years other critical watersheds throughout the country as beneficiaries of AMTC.
It also supports the government’s Enhanced National Greening Program that aims to reforest denuded areas in the country through the AMTC. In the website of the National Greening Program of DENR, as of August 12, 2022 a total of 1,829,867, 211 seedlings have been planted in two million hectares of land since 2011 under the National Greening Program and Enhanced National Greening Program. DENR targets to reforest another two million hectares.
In my previous column, I wrote about the AMTC awards and the partnerships MTFI has forged with both government and private entities. Among these partners are MTFI’s institutional partners: San Miguel Corporation, Manila Water, Maynilad, and Sta. Clara International.
Manila Water has been an institutional partner of MTFI since 2021 with an annual endowment of P1-million. It has planted 1,382,114 trees under its Watershed Reforestation Project started in 1995. For 2022, it has planted 88,000 trees at the La Mesa watersheds. From 2017-2022, Manila Water has been recognized as a dependable stakeholder partner of the AMTC with 150,000 committed trees to be planted for CY 2023. It established and implemented best practices that foster sustainable forests and/or community-based reforestation program, serving as the model for other communities or organizations.
Like Manila Water, Maynilad has been an institutional partner of MTFI since 2021 with the same annual P1-million support and a stakeholder partner of AMTC since 2017. Its Plant for Life Watershed Reforestation Project that was earlier initiated in 2007 recently achieved its 1 million trees planted on December 29 last year. In 2022, Maynilad planted 82,051 trees at the La Mesa, Ipo, and Manila Bay watersheds. It pledged to plant 215,000 trees for CY 2023.
As an institutional partner, Santa Clara International took care of the ground preparations for the construction of the Million Trees Nursery and Eco Learning Center. It deployed heavy equipment for the purpose. As a stakeholder partner, it has planted thousands of fire trees in Morong, Bataan.
Another institutional partner is San Miguel Corporation (SMC) which is the major donor of MTFI with an annual P5-million endowment to support the various programs, projects and operations of MTFI. In the last four years, SMC has planted and nurtured more than five million new trees and mangroves from 2019 to 2022 under its multi-year, nationwide forestation and carbon capture program as part of San Miguel Corporation Global Power’s (SMCGP) PROJECT 747 covering 5,00,116 upland and mangrove trees across 1,500 hectares of land in seven provinces. SMC has been an institutional partner of MTFI since the latter’s establishment in 2021. Through the initiative of its President and CEO Mr. Ramon S. Ang, SMC provided initial funding for the construction of the Million Trees Nursery and Eco Learning Center.
The nursery and eco learning center is essential in carrying out the programs of MTFI. Located at the La Mesa Watershed, it is the first project of MTFI in the five-hectare land leased by government to the Foundation. The eco learning center hosts the MTFI satellite office and has available space for environment-related seminars and workshops particularly the SMC Multi Purpose Center or more popularly known as Eddie’s Green Barn to honor the memory of former President Fidel V. Ramos. A coffee shop and souvenir shop are also situated in the leased area as well as kiosks for each institutional partner where their respective environment conservation and protection advocacies are highlighted.
SMC’s advocacy for environment protection goes beyond reforestation. It is also actively involved in river clean-up and rehabilitation with the Tullahan-Tinajeros river system and Pasig River among the beneficiaries of the initiative.
In his message during the AMTC Awarding Ceremony and Pledging Session, RSA commended former MWSS Administrator and Chairman Gen Reynaldo V. Velasco (ret), MWSS Administrator Bobby Cleofas and MTFI together with fellow advocates on environment protection.
While tree-planting is just one of the courses of action in environment protection, there is no debate about its importance. Trees play a vital role in the water cycle and help improve water quality as they filter pollutants and sediments.
With the AMTC, a community built on a commitment for a greener and stronger future has been established with the Million Trees Foundation carrying on the torch for the green revolution of planting trees to protect critical watersheds.
“This opportunity is an avenue for us to further show our value of “malasakit” – Malasakit Para sa Kalikasan,” RSA said.
MTFI partners have committed to plant over a million more trees this year. It is not far-fetched to achieve MTFI’s goal of 10 million more trees planted by 2030.