The Stewards of Marikina Watershed: the Aboitiz Group’s contribution to community-driven reforestation

Jul 10, 2018

Six local groups to reap income opportunities while saving the environment

The Aboitiz Group has partnered with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) for the planting of half a million seedlings at the Marikina Watershed, ensuring the protection of a critical water catchment for Metro Manila and surrounding areas.

Under the agreement, the Aboitiz Group and PBSP will plant 500,000 seedlings across 313 hectares in the Marikina Watershed. This P23.5-million project will be undertaken by 50 households from six people’s organizations such as Tulungan sa Kabuhayan ng Calawis (TSKC) and Inigan Upland Farmers Association (IUFA), and is expected to help reforest the watershed’s forest lands and increase these people’s organizations’ income generation via agroforestry.

The Marikina Watershed, located in Marikina River’s upper basin, is a protected landscape spread across over 26,000 hectares. The watershed, along with its trees and forestlands, protects cities from floods, maintains the water level and quality of the river and groundwater, and most importantly, is a source of livelihood for people and towns that surround it.

“This partnership between PBSP and Aboitiz is really a big help for us. We will strive to further grow and improve on this project,” said farmer Sernito Ycay of IUFA, who remarked the partnership would create significant opportunities for IUFA members in nearby Sitio Anipa who only rely on charcoal sales for their livelihood.

Virgie Bañaga, who leads TSKC, is similarly grateful for this project. Given its multi-faceted approach, she believes in the potential impact of the project for TSKC’s women members.

“This is a big help for our group, especially for our women members. Not only will our members earn--this will also have a positive impact on the environment,” Bañaga said.

The Aboitiz STP forms part of A-Park, the Aboitiz Group’s nationwide forest cover restoration program launched in 2010 to contribute to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ National Greening Program.

“The partnerships we forge under A-Park brings a more united approach to our reforestation initiatives. On top of the communities that have been given additional sources of income, we remain committed to achieving our goal for tree growing,” said Erramon I. Aboitiz, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer.

As of end-2017, the Aboitiz Group has already grown 5.7 million seedlings in various locations nationwide, putting the Aboitiz Group well on track on its A-Park goal of growing nine million seedlings by end-2020.