Manila Standard holds 11th tree planting program
As members of society, individuals and institutions have a part to play to ensure the sustainability of communities and the environment for future generations.
In recent years, people have focused on giving back to the environment for its preservation and conservation especially with the present and real threat of climate change.
For its part, Manila Standard, through its corporate social responsibility, continues to set an example in advocating environmental sustainability.
Last Saturday, September 17, some employees of the media organization trooped to Barangay Sto. Niño, Tanay, Rizal to conduct its 11th tree planting initiative, Adopt-A-Tree Program, under its Integritree program, led by its Circulation Department Chief Edgar Valmorida.
Despite the inclement weather, they went to the site to plant 400 bamboo seedlings in answer to Mother Earth’s call to protect the environment and the ecosystem of the area, and to promote biodiversity.
The planting site is along the bank of Lamitan River within the Kaliwa Watershed Forest Reserve, recommended by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office in Rizal as an ideal location for bamboo.
Manila Standard’s Adopt-A-Tree Program began in 2009 at the Ipo Dam Watershed in Norzagaray, Bulacan. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program was temporarily put on hold in the past two years.
With pandemic restrictions slowly easing, Manila Standard, aware of its commitment to the environment and its responsibility to the community, has resumed the program. The company also sees it as a means to instill a sense of camaraderie among the organization’s employees and the members of other organizations.
Partnering with the government and private sector
Manila Standard recognizes the relevance of encouraging other members of society to participate in sustainability projects, which is why the company partnered with two institutions for its Adopt-A-Tree program.
One of them is the DENR through the Strategic Communication and Initiatives Service (SCIS).
“DENR-SCIS’s partnership with Manila Standard started way back in 2014 or earlier. It was a yearly activity until 2020 when the pandemic struck. That year, the SCIS already had a project with Manila Standard and an ocular of the mangrove planting site was already conducted. When the lockdown was implemented, the activity was put on hold. This year’s bamboo planting is a continuation of that partnership,” said DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones.
Leones added that the Manila Standard’s decision to plant bamboo, along the bank of Lamitan River would benefit the nearby community because bamboo will help prevent erosion and thus protect structures, houses, and other existing improvements in the area.
Manila Standard has also partnered with the people’s organization Samahang Maggugulay Ng Sto. Niño for the site preparation.
Leones also said that Manila Standard is among the stakeholders that support the country’s National Greening Program (NGP), led by the DENR.
“In 2015, Manila Standard, in support of this reforestation program for environmental protection, adopted an NGP graduated site in Norzagaray, Bulacan for three years,” he said.
Leones hopes other companies and organizations also consider environmental CSR just like Manila Standard.
Aside from the DENR, Manila Standard also collaborated with the United Riders Charity Philippines (URCP) for their 11th tree planting activity.
The group, headed by its president, Cesar Vergara, was eager to contribute to protecting Mother Nature by riding through the streets and walking along the riverbank to plant the bamboo seedlings in their respective sites.
URCP, according to Vergara, is more than just being a riders’ group. They also engage in charity work, such as tree planting, donation drives, and more.
Other attendees at Manila Standard’s 11th sowing activity included Forester Nestor P. Arriola, Jr., the National Greening Program coordinator for Rizal province, and Forester Felomen Antonio, Protected Area Superintendent for Kaliwa River Forest Reserve. Riders from Batangas also participated in the activity.
The number of attendees helped Manila Standard meet its goal of planting all the prepared seedlings in select areas along the riverbank.
As an added step to intensify its environmental preservation initiative, Manila Standard also took the responsibility of looking after themselves and leaving no traces of waste at the site.
Benefits of planting bamboo
Every September, the Philippines celebrates “Philippine Bamboo Month” based on Proclamation No. 1401 signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte. The proclamation directs the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC) to lead and promote the observance of Philippine Bamboo Month and identify the programs, projects, and activities for its yearly celebration.
Bamboo is known for its sturdiness and versatility as a construction material for buildings and furniture. It also plays several significant roles in preserving the environment.
For starters, bamboo is a non-invasive plant, making them ideal species to have in an ecosystem. Another relevant benefit of bamboo to the environment, which both Manila Standard and DENR recognized, is its protection against soil erosion due to its rapid growth, permanent canopy, and immense network of roots and rhizomes.
Rhizomes can survive more than a century allowing the bamboo to regenerate from stems. It is beneficial for binding topsoil, preventing soil erosion, and controlling areas frequented by landslides.
Its leaves also prevent damage from rainfall by dispersing large raindrops into smaller particles, contributing to the smooth distribution of groundwater throughout the forested area and reducing the risk of runoff and erosion on slopes or hillsides.
Bamboo, like all plants, produces oxygen for clean and fresh air.
Although it’ll still take years before the bamboo seedlings planted by Manila Standard and its partner organizations mature, a bamboo forest on the banks of Lamitan River will help preserve the water quality by forming a wall that serves as sediment control.
With climate change threatening water availability and quality in the Philippines, the timely and well-planned decision to plant bamboo seedlings along a riverbank connected to a significant dam in the Philippines will provide several benefits in the long run.
The extensive root system and forest cover prevent streams from evaporating and cause an increase in groundwater levels within several years.
Manila Standard’s Adopt-A-Tree program demonstrates the company’s dedication to its CSR and role in becoming a social leader that fosters positive developments in the community. It hopes to encourage public and private institutions to take a step and preserve relevant values and resources for a better future.
Photos by Peter Paul Duran