Million Trees Foundation urges planting of more trees

SMC President/CEO Ramon Ang helps unveil a marker in this file photo inaugurating the Million Trees Nursery and Eco Learning Center at the La Mesa Watershed together with Gen. Reynaldo Velasco, MTFI president Melandrew Velasco, MWSS, DENR and other officials.

By Claire Morales True

QUEZON CITY – As the country observed Global Warming and Climate Change Consciousness Week, the Million Trees Foundation, Inc. (MTFI)  urged all stakeholders to support the priority programs of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to ensure an integrated approach to the problem of climate change.

In a statement, MTFI President and Executive Director Melandrew T. Velasco said mitigating the effects of climate change needs the cooperation of all stakeholders. He cited that among the government priority programs, MTFI is committed to continue its support to the reforestation program and programs to ensure water security and resilience in high water-stressed areas.

“Our goal is to plant more trees and grow them. MTFI’s objective is really to grow trees in critical watersheds and continue the gains of the Annual Million Tree Challenge,” Velasco said.

“We make sure the tree species we plant are compatible with the type of soil,” he said, adding, this contributes to the success in reforestation.   MTFI targets to plant 10 million more tress by 2030. It has succeeded in planting 5.2 million trees in seven critical watersheds in Angat, Ipo, La Mesa, Umiray, Laguna Lake, Kaliwa and Upper Marikina that supply potable water to Metro Manila and its environs from 2017 to 2021 through the Annual Million Trees Challenge (AMTC) of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

According to Velasco, reforesting the watersheds contributes to water security.

For his part, MTFI Chairman Emeritus Gen. Reynaldo V. Velasco said it is “our obligation to care for our environment.”

“Trees capture carbon dioxide and intensifying tree-planting means more trees to absorb carbon emissions,” he added.

MTFI has partnered with various organizations and the business sector to pursue its reforestation program.

One of its partners is San Miguel Corporation, one of the country’s leading conglomerates. Boltsering its climate action initiatives, SMC power subsidiary SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. (SMCGP) reported the successful planting and growing of over five million new trees and mangroves from 2019 to date, under its multi-year, nationwide forestation and carbon capture program. The company said it is also expanding the scope of the project to reforest areas around its new Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) facilities—the first and largest such network in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

SMC President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang said that as of October 2022, SMCGP’s “Project 747” initiative has yielded a total of 5,010,116 upland and mangrove trees, across some 1,500 hectares of land.

The project’s goal is to plant seven million trees on some 4,000 hectares of land, in at least seven provinces. Thus far, SMCGP has planted in eight: Albay, Bataan, Bulacan, Davao Occidental, Negros Occidental, Pangasinan, Quezon province, and Zambales.

SMC Global Power Holdings (SMCGPH) has partnered with the Dumagats to plant white and red lauan, palosapis, apitong, yakal, guijo, bignai and narra, among others in the first 16 out of 55 hectares of land identified for reforestation. SMCGPH aims to plant seven million trees and mangroves on more than 4,000 hectares of land.

Meanwhile, in Angat, Bulacan a total of 54,056 trees and mangroves have been planted including those planted by employees of the Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project on 14 hectares at the Angat Dam Watershed.

“The tree-planting activities of SMC contribute greatly to the government’s reforestation campaign. I hope other organizations will follow and do their share in protecting the environment,” Gen. Velasco said.

Last month, DENR gathered over 200 industry and sector leaders to a multi-sectoral forum to strengthen the country’s environmental resilience. During the event, Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga reaffirmed DENR’s commitment to protect the country’s natural resources. She cited the need for inclusive and multidisciplinary dialogue to make this possible.

The observance of Global Warming and Climate Change Consciousness Week every November 19-25 is pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 1667 issued by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on November 18, 2008.  The Proclamation enjoins all government offices including government-owned and controlled corporations to observe the event through the conduct of relevant activities “in coordination with private sector institutions and in liaison with the UN family of agencies and regional groups” in the country.

This year’s observance of Global Warming and Climate Change Consciousness Week immediately comes after the holding of the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Egypt last November 6-18, 2022.