The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and its partners for the Annual Million Trees Challenge are now on track to reach five million trees alongside with its bold plan for the nationwide expansion of the tree-planting project, which is set to celebrate its four-year milestones.
Today September 14, the MWSS and the Million Trees Foundation Inc. the organization established to sustain and expand AMTC, will hold the Annual Million Tree Challenge Awards and Recognition.
Apart from the recognition of AMTC partners and the country’s top water security advocates, the event will also highlight the AMTC scorecard, the showing of the 15-minute Annual Million Trees Challenge documentary, and the launching of MTFI’s FLOW (For the Love of Watersheds) magazine.
Launched in 2017, the AMTC is a five-year watershed rehabilitation program of the MWSS which aims to restore the health of seven critical watersheds – namely Angat, Ipo, Kaliwa, La Mesa, Laguna Lake, Umiray, Upper Marikina and Manila Bay – that are crucial in supplying water to Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.
Four years after its maiden launch, AMTC is now on its way to surpassing its target of five million trees, having planted 4,131,326 in 9,509.475 hectares of identified denuded areas of the aforementioned watersheds with this year’s partner stakeholders’ pooled commitment of planting 1,173,831 trees. The event will be hybrid and will be streamed on FB Live.
After surpassing targets, Gen. Reynaldo V. Velasco (Ret.), MWSS Chairman and Administrator, said the AMTC is now on track for its nationwide expansion.
“Watersheds are not only crucial in the provision of water for agricultural, domestic and industrial purposes. They also serve as habitats to diverse plant and animal species; and play other ecological functions such as flood mitigation. Illegal logging, grazing and mining are some of the human activities that have adversely affected the state of our country’s watersheds. Despite the growing awareness of environmental protection among Filipinos, much still needs to be done to raise that awareness to the ideal level,” Velasco, who also serves as the chairman emeritus of the MTFI, said.
“For us at the water agency that services the Greater Manila area, the critical state of the seven watersheds that are beneficiaries of the AMTC is a cause for worry because it greatly affects the water supply in the country’s busiest economic center. But we are making headway to achieve water security. Our progress can be gleaned from the increased population being served. To further improve this, we have embarked on water infrastructure projects. More can be done to improve the performance of the water industry sector. Better watershed management will definitely be a key,” he added.
It was on August 25, 2021 when the MWSS Board of Trustees approved MTFI to become the official non-profit institutional partner of MWSS for the implementation and expansion of AMTC.
During the AMTC Awards and Recognition, the MWSS will recognize AMTC partner stakeholders. Among the “Champions of Trees” awardees are Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation, Philippine Water Works Association, Inc., Rotary International District 3780, UP Beta Sigma International, Boy Scout of the Philippines, JCI Senate Philippines, Million Tree Foundation, Inc., MWSS Regulatory Office, Maynilad Water Services, Inc., Manila Water Company, Inc., DENR Region 3 – PENRO Bulacan, DENR Region 4 A – PENRO Rizal, DENR National Capital Region, Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), Municipality of General Nakar, Quezon, ABS CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc.- Bantay Kalikasan (ALKFI – BK), World Wide Fund for Nature– Philippines (WWF Philippines), UP Mountaineers, Inc., and Mga Anak ni Inang Daigdig, Inc.
The event will also recognize the ‘Kampeon ng Tubig,’ who are the country’s biggest advocates of water security. This would include MWSS chief Velasco, the late Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, General Nakar Municipal Mayor Eliseo Ruzol, Forester and Department Manager of Watershed Management of the National Power Corporation Emmanuel Umali, and DENR Regional Executive Director Francisco Milla.
A special plaque of appreciation will also be presented to MTFI President and CEO Melandrew T. Velasco, who led the efforts to conceptualize the AMTC project.
“Having been one of the think tank and primary movers of the AMTC, I am extremely elated on how far this project has come a long way in planting millions of trees and in protecting seven critical watersheds that are sources of potable water to Metro Manila and its environs,” Velasco said.
During the event, Velasco will likewise lead the video showing of the AMTC Documentary produced by Media Touchstone Ventures Inc and Brilliant Jerk Productions, the launch of the MTFI website, as well as the FLOW magazine, which will serve as the official publication of MTFI, its targets, and achievements moving forward.
“The creation and eventual registration of the Million Tree Foundation, Inc. (MFTI) at the Securities and Exchange Commission provided the impetus needed to push through with the magazine. FLOW—For the Love of Watersheds— is simply defined as the action or fact of moving along in a steady, continuous stream and is often associated with water,” Velasco said.
“When one thinks of water, one is reminded that this precious resource, with its depleting supply, could turn into a crisis and cause “water stress.” One way of preventing this is to take care of the watersheds. FLOW magazine will endeavor to provide the necessary data, information and latest developments in watershed management to encourage more stakeholders to participate in the rehabilitation of these watersheds,” he added.
In the maiden issue of FLOW, MTFI presents the accomplishments of the Annual Million Tree Challenge. Along with this AMTC 5-year accomplishment report, FLOW features on the awardees of the AMTC—the participating partners—who have immensely contributed to the achievement of the AMTC target of one million trees planted every year.
The magazine also devotes pages to AMTC’s institutional partners namely: Maynilad Water Services, Inc., Manila Water Company, Inc., and San Miguel Corporation. FLOW also highlighted the many untold stories of civic organizations and their endeavors to promote environment awareness and protection. These organizations include JCI Senate Green Link project, the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC), and the Rotary District 3780.