Planting trees

By Business Mirror

QUICK READ: Energy Development Corporation and BIHNI aim to protect and restore Philippine forests to achieve a sustainable future.


Joyce Kilmer’s poem, Trees, goes: “I think that I shall never see /A poem lovely as a tree”… and many of the older generations can recite the rest of it by heart, perhaps because it is one of the first poems they learned in school or from their parents at home.

It’s a simple but beautiful poem that teaches us what a tree has to offer. Those of us who have ever stood before a tree and found ourselves utterly transfixed by it understand why Kilmer wrote the poem.

There was a time in the Philippines when there were many trees to behold. In the 1950s, for instance, the concrete jungle we know today as Manila was called a garden city. It had more green spaces than grey buildings. Trees shaded the streets and avenues. Nowadays, trees are largely gone in our cities and even in our provinces.

The Philippines has a total land area of 30 million hectares, and almost half of which are classified as forest land. However, only half of our forest land, or approximately 7.5 million hectares are covered with trees, leaving almost the same area falling under the classification of “open, degraded, and denuded forests.”

This is a shame since trees can help mitigate climate change, the harsh effects of which we Filipinos know only too well.

According to Global Forest Watch, a nonprofit organization that monitors the world’s forests, each tree is estimated to capture 200 kilograms of carbon dioxide in its lifetime.

Global warming has strengthened the storms that routinely pummel our shores, harming lives and destroying billions worth of crops and properties.

Our local scientists have been saying over the years: Had our forests been healthier, they could have absorbed the powerful winds and surges of powerful storms. They could have protected our people and their homes and saved lives.

That’s why we commend BINHI, the nationwide tree-planting program of the Energy Development Corporation (EDC), which was recently featured by Jonathan L. Mayuga in a BusinessMirror banner story—Greening PHL the public-private way.

EDC, the country’s largest and the world’s second-largest geothermal energy producer, recently celebrated the 12th anniversary of BINHI.

Over the years, the Lopez Group’s global and diversified renewable-energy firm has accomplished what no other company in the Philippines has done. From 2009 to 2019, Energy Development Corporation planted over 6.4 million seedlings and restored 9,449 hectares of denuded forests inside geothermal reservations and other watershed areas “to leave a legacy of a verdant Philippines for the next generation.”

The company has partnered with 183 institutions and 88 communities in 16 regions for various forest-restoration projects.

One of its most successful initiatives is the Baslay coffee project, which transformed three generations of slash and burn farmers or kaingineros in Dauin, Negros Oriental into forest guardians.

Baslay’s community forest is now a refuge to 113 species of birds and one of the primary sources of quality coffee (robusta and arabica) in Central Visayas.

The former kaingineros are now masters of interplanting coffee with native tree species. They produce one of the country’s best coffee beans, and now operate their own coffee shop at their coffee plantation, which foreign backpackers and local tourists often visit. They have learned the value of taking care of the forests.

The BINHI program is an excellent example of how ethical businesses can boost the reforestation efforts of the government. It deserves to be emulated because private-sector support is essential to the success of the government’s National Greening Program.

If other responsible corporations like Energy Development Corporation can help create financial incentives to spur investment in reforestation and work side-by-side with the government, scientists, and communities to protect and restore our forests, then there is no doubt that we can obtain a sustainable future for the Philippines and all Filipinos.

The Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is a pioneer in generating 100% clean, renewable, and reliable power as an electricity supplier in the Philippines for over 40 years. With power plants all over Visayas and Mindanao, the company is one of the biggest producers of geothermal energy in Asia and is expanding its reach in the international market, allowing it to offer customers affordable energy rates. EDC also strives to provide the best customer service it can to all its clients by having helpful salespeople and easy to understand contracts. Because of all of this, it is poised to become the premier supplier of electricity for the Philippines’ Green Energy Option Program. EDC takes its mission as a renewable energy provider seriously and goes beyond sustainability by investing in programs that enhance the environment and empower its partner communities, thereby fostering regenerative development. The company has also been working toward being carbon-neutral by improving its energy efficiency, as well as implementing various greening projects to ensure that its mission to provide future generations with a better life remains intact.