As the election fever heats up and the fight to control the spread of the pandemic persists, Million Trees Foundation, Inc. (MTFI) is diligently continuing efforts to promote environmental protection.
MTFI president and executive director Melandrew T. Velasco announced that the first phase of its project, the MTFI Tree Nursery and Eco Learning Center, is almost complete.
“We have to push for environment protection continuously despite the pandemic,” Velasco said. He added that deforestation is a major environmental concern in the country.
The project is located in the La Mesa Watershed. The area was granted to the Foundation by the government through the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). This was provided for in a memorandum of agreement between the two entities.
He commended MWSS concessionaires Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (Maynilad) President Ramoncito S. Fernandez, Manila Water Company, Inc. (Manila Water) President Virgil De Dios, Manila Water Foundation President Donato Almeda for supporting by shelling out a P1 million each for the first phase of the MTFI nursery that includes a converted office two container vans, greenhouses, and a coffee shop. which will be the center of activities of MTFI.
SMC President and CEO Ramon S. Ang, whose subsidiary Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation (LCWDC) is the third MWSS concessionaire, extended cash donation amounting to P5 million for the project. MTFI also got support from Sta. Clara International Corporation President Nick Linao in preparing the grounds for the construction.
The three MWSS concessionaires are active partners in the Annual Million Trees Challenge (AMTC), a watershed rehabilitation project benefitting seven critical watersheds essential to the water supply in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces. It involves the planting of at least one million trees annually in the identified watersheds.
Launched in 2017, AMTC has been successful in meeting its targets. AMTC was launched by Gen. Reynaldo V. Velasco (Ret.) during his incumbency as MWSS Administrator. Aside from being partners in the AMTC, the concessionaires have their respective tree-planting initiatives.
SMC has already planted 3.8 million trees since 2019. Seedling survival rate for upland trees is 89 percent while for mangrove saplings is 91 percent.
The MTFI Nursery and Satellite Office will be the center of all activities of the AMTC. Aside from the production of saplings, it will be the venue of trainings and seminars as well as a learning hub for environment protection.
Identified saplings to be cultivated are narra, ilang-ilang, bamboo, and other indigenous trees suitable for forest rehabilitation.