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Monday, March 4, 2024

Maynilad’s one million trees and more

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“Maynilad’s watershed monitoring activities were also intensified, thereby boosting the survival rate of the planted trees.”

When a group of environmentalists founded the Million Trees Foundation, Inc. (MTFI) in 2021, their primary objective was to ensure the sustainability of the Annual Million Trees Challenge initiated by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System to rehabilitate six critical watersheds.

Beyond this, however, is MFTI’s commitment to support the government’s Enhanced National Greening Program to arrest a major environmental concern in the country—deforestation.

Simply defined as the clearing of forests by humans, deforestation destroys the habitats of important species, disrupts weather patterns and the water cycle, and contributes to climate change.

An average of 20 typhoons enter the Philippine area of responsibility annually and the country has witnessed flooding, mudslide, destruction of property, and even loss of lives because of these tropical cyclones.

Tree-planting has become more urgent to address deforestation.

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When tropical storm Paeng (international name Nalgae) battered the country in November last year, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. pushed for tree-planting to prevent future flooding.

He added it is not just to save the environment but also to save lives.

Aside from its environmental benefits such as decreasing air pollution, improving soil and water conservation capacity, increasing forest coverage and enhancing forest ecosystems, reforestation also has economic and health benefits.

From 2015 to 2020, forest cover increased by 3.03 percent.

For a successful reforestation program, collaborative effort between the government and private sector is essential.

And, being an environmentalist, I am happy that many from the private sector are committed to help re-green the country.

MTFI has forged ties with different agencies including the concessionaires of MWSS to reforest denuded watersheds essential to the water supply of the metropolis and neighboring provinces.

In 2007, West Zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services, Inc. was re-privatized.

Its concession area consists of the cities of Manila (certain portions), Quezon City (certain portions), Makati (west of South Super Highway), Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas and Malabon all in Metro Manila; the cities of Cavite, Bacoor and Imus, and the towns of Kawit, Noveleta, and Rosario, all in Cavite Province.

In the same year, it launched its Plant for Life watershed reforestation program.

Plant for Life is Maynilad’s environment stewardship program originally aimed to reforest the watersheds in Angat, Ipo and La Mesa.

When AMTC was launched in 2017, Maynilad actively supported the program.

Today, it has evolved into a multi-site reforestation and afforestation program whose coverage includes the areas along the coastlines of Laguna Lake and Manila Bay in Cavite and Muntinlupa.

“One of the best steps we can take to protect our water sources is to plant trees on denuded lands. Trees help with the soil’s water retention, thus preventing the soil erosion that causes high turbidity levels in our raw water supply,” Maynilad President and CEO Ramoncito S. Fernandez said.

Maynilad’s watershed monitoring activities were also intensified, thereby boosting the survival rate of the planted trees.

Recently, Maynilad planted its one millionth tree at the La Mesa Watershed in Quezon City.

The activity was witnessed by MWSS Administrator Engr. Leonor Cleofas and Maynilad President Ramoncito Fernandez along with Department of Environment and Natural Resources NCR Assistant Regional Director for Technical Engr. Ignacio Almira, Jr.

Through Maynilad’s Plant for Life program around 755.3 hectares have been planted with indigenous trees to include narra, cupang, acacia, alibangbang, apitong, and mangroves.

Likewise, it enabled Maynilad to reduce its carbon emissions by around 25,000 tons per year.

Maynilad and the other companies in the MVP Group are ramping up their reforestation initiatives to attain ‘net-zero carbon’ by 2040.

Maynilad is also an institutional partner of MTFI. It supported the construction of the Million Trees Nursery and Eco Learning Center.

Information about environment protection programs are featured in a kiosk dedicated for Maynilad inside the nursery compound.

Maynilad has been steadfast in its support to MTFI, the most recent was a Php1-million institutional support.

(The author is a book author who has at least 40 titles to his credit. He is also the president of the Million Trees Foundation Inc., a non-government outfit championing tree planting in mostly denuded watershed areas).

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