GCash, the country’s leading e-wallet, team up with the United States International Agency for Development (USAID) Fish Right Program and Silliman University to plant half a million mangrove trees in Negros Oriental, in line with its goal to fight climate change and support biodiversity.
This project will plant half a million trees across 78 hectares of mangrove and beach forests, covering 19 barangays in five towns namely Zamboanguita, Siaton, Sta. Catalina, Bayawan, and Basay. In five years time, this project expects to sequester 117,000 tons of carbon.
GCash, USAID, and Silliman University formally launched the partnership through a ceremonial signing and a mangrove planting activity on May 5 in Lutoban, Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental. Around 200 participants joined the launch, including the core representatives from GCash, USAID, and Silliman University. Local and provincial government unit representatives and various groups such as fisherfolk associations, women’s groups, Silliman University’s student organization (STEWaRDS), representatives from national government agencies like Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the non-profit organization Voice of the Free Foundation (VFF) were also present at the event.
This newly launched alliance will also support local communities, particularly people’s organizations and women’s groups, through the provision of skills training on conservation and management of selected mangrove forests and through cash for work assistance. This also leverages USAID’s decades-long experience in marine biodiversity conservation, climate resilience, and fisheries management.
“We at GCash are committed to support the reforestation of South Negros though GForest, in partnership with Silliman University. We continuously work with various credible international and local partners who are following a science-based approach, ” said CJ Alegre, GCash Head of Sustainability. “Together with the people of Negros, and the milions of users of GCash, all of us can plant the seeds for a better tomorrow.”
Dr. Hilconida Calumpong of Silliman University reiterated the importance of mangrove ecosystems to climate resilience and food security. “Mangroves are important ecosystems that support climate change mitigation by storing large amounts of carbon, and climate change adaptation, by protecting coastlines from typhoons,” said Dr. Calumpong. “Healthy mangrove systems are also closely tied to livelihoods, serving as nurseries for fish stocks. Degradation of mangroves areas, therefore, has a negative impact on both the climate resilience and food security of coastal communities.”
“This alliance aims to restore the mangrove forests of the local conservation areas of our partner LGUs and to contribute to the protection of our communities,” said Mr. Nygiel Armada, USAID Fish Right Program Chief of Party. “As we hand over the initiatives that have been started under the Program to our partners, we are starting a new chapter in our journey of sustainability in South Negros. Planting half a million trees is a good way to start this new chapter. We are very grateful to have facilitated the establishment of this collaboration between one of our consortium partners, the Silliman University, and GCash,” he added.
GCash introduced GForest in 2019 to address climate change by enjoining Filipinos to contribute to reforestation efforts through their digital transactions. For every transaction done in the GCash app, users will earn green energy which they can save up, and eventually use to plant a digital tree. GCash and its partner communities will then plant all these as actual trees.
At present, GCash has 12.9 million green heroes who are contributing to fight climate change through this user-friendly, digital feature. To date, 2.2 million trees have been planted nationwide.
Silliman University, as a consortium partner of the USAID Fish Right Program, aims to support ecosystem-based adaptation. This collaboration recognizes the importance of mangrove ecosystems in climate change mitigation & adaptation and in supporting the livelihood of coastal communities as it serves as nursery grounds for many fish, crab, and shellfish species.