To help increase and sustain water supply in
Metro Manila, Nestlé Philippines Inc. and World Wide Fund (WWF) - Philippines, in
collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) have embarked on a
project to rehabilitate 150 hectares of the Ipo Watershed with 75,000 trees.
The project, called Forests for Water: Nestlé for Ipo Watershed, was kicked-off
on July 18, 2017 with the planting of 2000 trees at the site in Ipo Watershed,
Ipo Watershed is a vital link in
the Angat-Umiray-Ipo Watershed that supplies 98% of all the water needs of
Metro Manila. Forest cover in Ipo has dramatically dropped from 85% to just 40%
in recent years. The lack of trees, mostly due to informal settlers and/or
illegal logging, has resulted in less water being absorbed by the dam during
rainfall. Less trees also add to soil run-off, which makes the dam water
difficult to filter, which also causes shortages of supply.
three-year partnership aims to rehabilitate a portion of the 7,000-hectare
watershed that consists primarily of public forestlands. During the launch,
around 150 volunteers from Nestlé, WWF, DENR, MWSS, and the local forest guards
or Bantay Gubat joined forces to help plant trees at the site after a short
program at the Ipo dam.
The program was opened by Nestlé
Philippines Chairman and CEO Jacques Reber, after Norzagaray Mayor Geronimo
Cristobal Jr. gave his welcoming remarks. Keynote speeches were then given by Marlo
Mendoza, DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations and Staff Bureaus, who
represented DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu; Atty
Annaliza Teh, DENR Usec. for Climate Change Service; and Atty Noel Felongco,
DENR Usec. For Solid Waste Mgmt, Local Government and Indigenous Peoples’
Concerns. WWF Ambassador Marc Nelson then took the stage to explain the
significance of the project, followed by WWF CEO Joel Palma. WWF Forests for
Water Program Director Paolo Pagaduan then gave a short brief of the trek, boat
ride and planting procedure. All volunteers had to take a 15 minute boat ride
and a 15 minute trek through several streams to reach the denuded area to plant
trees such as narra and fruit-bearing trees.
All speakers lauded the
partnership that promises to
create awareness in the importance of improving forest cover to ensure water
supply in the future. WWF also stressed the importance of partnering with the
local Dumagat tribe, the men of which are now employed by the program as forest
guards or “Bantay Gubat”. The tribal community was given this livelihood
opportunity among others to help prevent the logging of trees in the watershed.
Nestlé embarked on the program as part
of the Nestlé global celebration of its 150th anniversary in 2016.
Besides this project, Nestlé has also launched 150 model coffee farms across in
Bukidnon, Sultan Kudarat and Cavite to aid the robusta coffee industry, and 150
School NutriGardens across the country to help combat malnutrition with partner
East-West Seed Foundation.
WWF Philippines, through its
Forests for Water program, aims to not only rehabilitate crucial water resources in Isabela, Laguna, and Rizal, but
also to inform the general public about the relation of forest cover to water
activities are in line with Nestlé’s purpose, to enhance quality of life and
contribute to a healthier future.
Read related stories in DENR website:
DENR, PARTNERS LAUNCH TREE-PLANTING PROJECT IN MARIKINA RIVER BASIN