CEBU Holdings Inc. (CHI), a subsidiary of Ayala Land, has intensified its efforts to help environmental protection by enhancing the carbon forest in the upland barangays of Cebu City.
With the growing threat of climate change as now experienced through extreme weather conditions, scarcity of potable water and poor food production, among many effects, it is imperative that steps be taken to address this global concern.
As a property developer, CHI strives to minimize its impacts on the environment by managing resource use and emissions, solid waste and wastewater management and integrating green spaces within its developments.
One of CHI’s most significant environmental initiatives is the management of the 65-hectare Ayala Land Carbon Forest and Biodiversity Reserve, which is part of Central Cebu Protected Landscape. This property is one of Ayala Land’s five participating carbon forest sites in the country, with a total of 450 hectares.
This project is in line with Ayala Land’s aggressive target to offset the carbon emissions of its commercial properties by 2022.
Since 1998, this area in upland Cebu City has been preserved as a forest initially through the Ayala Foundation Inc. and CHI and Ayala Land’s tree planting activities.
CHI has made an inventory of over 3,000 mature trees of 67 different species, and more than 8,000 young trees in the carbon forest. Another 23,212 wildlings have been staked for brushing and ring weeding.
“As a developer, we see the importance of investing time and resources to help conserve and protect the environment – especially of the communities where we operate,” Jun Bisnar, president of CHI and chief executive officer of Ayala Land Visayas-Mindanao, said.
Among the activities the company has conducted in partnership with Soil and Water Conservation Foundation (SWCF) are assisted natural regeneration (ANR), enrichment planting, grass growth suppression, planting of bamboo as bio fence and soil erosion control and community awareness training on carbon forest management.
“Part of the carbon sink area focus will be to bring many other native species that can be found so eventually a large arboretum can be developed both for observation of specimen trees as well as potential seed sources in the future,” explained William Granert, executive director of SWCF.
Since 2018, 4,998 new trees of 45 different species have been planted so far by CHI and Ayala employees and other civic and private volunteers. The 65-hectare area today absorbs an equivalent of 16,763 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
The continuous tree-planting program seeks to address the shortage of water in Cebu by encouraging rainfall retention and absorption for aquifers underneath the ground.
“Covering the property with forest will assist in the generation of water for the Kotkot River and will improve the local biodiversity while helping to neutralize the carbon footprint of Ayala Land through carbon sequestration,” Granert added.
The Ayala Land Carbon Forest and Biodiversity Reserve is open to institutional partnerships for environmental education. It is the closest place to see the ANR and rainforestation technologies as well as observe Dipterocarptrees (commonly called Lawaan species).
A watershed tour stop at the Ayala Land Carbon Forest and Biodiversity Reserve will further allow visitors to learn more about carbon sinks and how they can help address climate change at the local level. Part of the property outside of the carbon forest also serves as a stop for those traversing the Transcentral Highway. Called Upland Greens, fresh produce and local delicacies are sold here by locals.
CHI has been measuring its resource use and greenhouse gas emissions, among other environmental, social and governance metrics. This project will serve as a contribution to its parent company’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2022.
“The carbon sink reserve should serve as a model to other private land owners on how to restore selected parts of their lands to strengthen the balance between forest and non-forest use,” Granert said.
CHI believes that there should be a fundamental shift in business towards more sustainable practices. PR