Environment and development can work together, and in most cases trees are their common denominator.
Reforestation crucial to PH climate change efforts
As countries around the world endeavor to prevent the global climate crisis from reaching catastrophic levels by 2030, reforestation remains a basic but vital strategy in mitigating climate change. A study by academic journal Science revealed that one billion hectares of forest could reduce 300 gigatons or 25 percent of carbon in the atmosphere.
In the Philippines, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Forest Management Bureau reported that the country loses 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year. Around 1.2 million hectares of denuded and degraded forest lands of the country need to be rehabilitated by 2022 to prevent landslides and ensure water availability.
Renewable energy leader Energy Development Corporation responds to these challenges through its flagship environmental program BINHI. The program intends to reforest degraded lands, rescue vanishing native trees, develop ecotourism areas, and provide livelihood to local communities.
Since its launch in 2011, EDC’s BINHI has successfully restored 9,500 hectares of forest land with 96 premium native trees species under threat of extinction.
This year, the program is expanding its scale to increase the Philippines’ forest cover. In its recent celebration of BINHI Day, EDC’s facilities across the country—the Mt. Apo Geothermal Project, Leyte Geothermal Project, the EDC-Burgos Wind Power Corporation, Bacon-Manito Geothermal Project, Southern Negros Geothermal Project, and EDC Head Office—rallied employees, community members, and other institutional partners to plant more trees in their respective areas. A total of 10,578 trees were planted across the different sites.
“The scale and breadth of our reforestation efforts is proof that business and the environment can co-exist sustainably. Doubling our efforts to restore our forests can take us a long way in protecting our planet and securing it for the generation who will bear the brunt of our inaction,” said Allan Barcena, head of EDC’s Corporate Social Responsibility and Public Relations Group.
Ensuring the viability of PH wood sector
Wood remains a vital part of the construction industry. According to the Forest Management Bureau, the country needs six million cubic meters of wood on an annual basis. However, the local wood sector faces many roadblocks meeting the local demand.
One of the main problems is public perception.
Cutting trees has negative implications perpetuated by the practice of illegal logging, which has led to serious deforestation in many areas around the country.
Groups, however, argue that if done sustainably, cutting down trees can help the environment. Removing mature trees that run the risk of dying and releasing the carbon it has stored in its body during its lifetime limits the emission of greenhouse gases.
Groups also cite the lack of legislation that promotes the welfare of the wood sector. Hence, the Philippine Wood Producers Association is advocating for several bills to be passed, including the National Land Use Act, the Forest Limits Act, and the Sustainable Forest Management Act.
“We believe that with the enactment of these proposed laws, we can make the Philippines a global superpower in terms of wood production,” said PWPA chairman Charlie Liu. “We are confident that with common sense legislation in place we can bring inclusive development to many places in the country.”