MWSS, MFTI, partners plant 5.2 M trees, boost watershed restoration roadmap

QUEZON CITY – More than five million seedlings have been planted from 2017-2021 through the Annual Million Trees Challenge project of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

This was jointly reported by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Administrator Leonor Cleofas and Million Trees Foundation, Inc. (MFTI) President Melandrew Velasco during the strategic planning activity to develop a watershed restoration roadmap held at MWSS La Mesa Guesthouse inside the La Mesa Dam Compound in Novaliches, Quezon City.

 Administrator Cleofas, CESO IV, delivered the opening remarks while MTFI Chairman Emeritus Gen. Reynaldo Velasco gave an inspirational message. MTFI Executive Director Melandrew T. Velasco updated the participants on the Foundation’s La Mesa Tree Nursery and Eco-Learning Center. According to Velasco the tree nursery and eco-learning center are now nearing completion.

Facilitated by Ron Jacobe of People Ignite Organizational Development and Training Inc., the event was attended by representatives  from   partner   agencies   Manila   Water,   Inc.;   Maynilad,   Luzon   Clean   Water Development Corporation, DENR National Capital Region, DENR Region III/PENRO Bulacan,DENR Region IV-A/PENRO RIZAL, LLDA, National Power Corporation, Local Government of Gen. Nakar, Quezon, One Meralco Foundation, and Santa Clara International Corporation.

According to the report from 2017-2021, a total of 5,212,344 seedlings have been planted in beneficiary watersheds. Of this number, 2,512,754 were planted in Ipo-Angat; 853,580 in La Mesa; 404,043 in Laguna de Bay; 257,099 in Kaliwa Umiray; 1,040,964 in Upper Marikina; and 143,904 in Manila Bay.

Thus far, the AMTC has met its targets. The tree-planting activities have resulted in the reforestation of 12,486.09 hectares in the watersheds as of end 2021: Ipo-Angat, 5,653.21 hectares; La Mesa, 1,913.59 hectares; Laguna be Bay, 802.73 hectares; Kaliwa-Umiray, 642.44 hectares; Upper Marikina, 3,150.99 hectares; and Manila Bay,323.13 hectares.

AMTC is a five-year watershed rehabilitation project with seven critical watersheds as its beneficiaries. The project’s target was to plant at least one million trees yearly and has successfully met its targets. It was launched in 2017 by then MWSS Administrator Gen, Reynaldo V. Velasco (ret.) who is now Chairman Emeritus of MTFI.

Reforestation activities were undertaken through collaborative efforts of various organizations from national government agencies, local government units, civil society groups and the private sector.

Among AMTC’s partners and their respective scorecard of planted trees from from 2017 to 2021 are Manila Water Company (Manila Water) with 386,000; Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (Maynilad) with 337,720; Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation (6,900); DENR NCR (382,930); DENR III (1,922,999); DENR IV-A (990,964); Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) with 360,552; local government of General Nakar (Quezon) with 76,980; ALKFI-BK (ABS CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc. – Bantay Kalikasan) with 144,600; and, WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines) with 297,400.

Tackled at the strategic planning activity were the gaps, challenges and opportunities to improve watershed restoration. It was also a venue to formulate goals, strategies and arrangements to enhance the restoration of the seven critical watersheds (Umiray, Angat, Ipo, La Mesa, Laguna de Bay, Kaliwa and Upper Marikina) supporting Metro Manila’s water supply.

The watersheds are threatened by destructive anthropogenic human activities and climate change, which leads to massive losses in forest cover, degradation and deteriorating water quality. It was also a venue to renew and institutionalize partnerships and collaboration among watershed stakeholders.

The event envisioned to develop a roadmap for enhancing watershed ecosystem restoration. The roadmap, to be implemented from 2022-2030, will contain goals and outcomes, implementation strategies, institutional arrangements and action plans to achieve improved biodiversity, ecological health and ecosystem .

.At the same event, a proposal on eco-system-based approach to climate change adaptation and water conservation through evidence-based watershed restoration was also presented.