MORE than 400 employee-volunteers from various companies and institutions recently came together on a sunny day in Barangay Buhisan, Cebu City to plant 7,500 tree seedlings in the Buhisan Watershed and Forest Reserve (BWFR).
The employee-volunteers were from PLDT, AAI Worldwide Logistics, Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Ludo and Luym Corp., Cebu Landmasters, Lear Corp., Oriental Port and Allied Services Corp., Funai Electric Philippines, Virtual Business Partners, RA Mojica and Partners, Excelym, Cathay Pacific and Marco Polo Plaza Hotel.
They participated in the tree-planting caravan organized by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).
BWFR is a 600-hectare protected area which forms part of the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL), also called the Cebu’s hilly lands. It is Metro Cebu’s primary source of water. The Buhisan Dam itself provides about five percent of the Metro Cebu Water District’s (MCWD) water supply.
In March 2019, the MCWD reported that the water levels of the dam have dropped from 6,000 cubic meters to only 1,500 cubic meters as a result of the El Niño phenomenon affecting 6,000 households in Cebu.
PBSP has been conducting reforestation caravans for 28 years now with the help from companies and partners to encourage business sector involvement in restoring Cebu’s aquifers and the barren areas of the CCPL. The initiative aims to provide a sustainable solution to the BWFR’s rehabilitation and watershed conservation efforts, and it is also one of the organization’s various platforms for employee engagement.
The employees, all certified tree huggers, planted native species of trees such as narra, balite, kape, caimito, taluto, and molave in the three-hectare area allotted for the reforestation activity in Buhisan. PBSP continuously advocates for native trees to be planted in the Cebu’s hilly lands to replace the exotic ones considered to be invasive to the area.
To date, the business-led NGO has mobilized about 17,000 volunteers to plant more than four million tree seedlings in over 1,670 hectares. PBSP has also uplifted the lives of more than 200 farmers in the Central Cebu Protected Landscape by tapping them as partners of the program.
The caravan is PBSP’s answer to address this concern and is one of its preliminary activities for a five-year program in the BWFR. The program aims to sustain the water supply in Cebu, improve lives of poor households through alternative and eco-friendly livelihood opportunities, and transform the BWFR into a sustainable eco-tourism destination.
“One of the thrusts of our environment program is the rehabilitation and protection of critical watersheds and coastal resources, as well as the empowerment of environment stewards and advocates to take the lead in building more resilient communities,” said PBSP Visayas regional manager Angelie Yulo-Millan.
The event was held in partnership with the Department of Environment and NaturalResources, Dulhogan People’s Association, Bacsan Farmer’s Association, local government of Barangay Buhisan, Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation, Philippine Red Cross, Philippine Army and Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office. S