GCash Forest eyes 365 thousand trees planted in 365 days

Filipinos who want to contribute to environmental preservation can now conveniently use an innovative mobile phone app to help plant trees and increase the Philippines’ forest cover.
Leading mobile wallet, GCash, is introducing an exciting “green” feature on the app called GCash Forest, which lets subscribers plant virtual trees that will have real-life counterparts. By the end of 365 days,

GCash Forest aims to plant 365 thousand trees with the help of GCash subscribers. According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Forest Management Bureau (FMB), the Philippines is losing 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year. The FMB also reported the need to rehabilitate 1.2 million hectares of forest lands by 2022 to prevent landslides, ensure water availability, and preserve biodiversity..

“GCash Forest is about making it easier, more convenient, and even rewarding for everyone to take care of our environment for the benefit of future generations,” said Mynt CEO Anthony Thomas. “GCash is no longer just providing an excellent platform for accessible financial products and services but also enabling Filipinos to be more active in responding to real-life issues, such as climate change mitigation through reforestation.”

GCash considers GCash Forest as a last mile initiative that fully recognizes the emergence of an all-
digital Filipino lifestyle. To implement its tree-planting initiatives, GCash Forest partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN). The DENR will provide land resources in Ipo Watershed, an essential component of the Angat- Umiray-Ipo watersheds system supplying 98 percent of Metro Manila’s water. WWF will be providing trees and manpower while BIOFIN will provide expertise on monitoring.

Thomas added that recent findings on the Philippines’ vulnerability to climate-related hazards call for
greater collective action. Results of the Global Peace Index 2019 identified the Philippines as the most susceptible country to the adverse effects of climate change. By leveraging the GCash platform and scale, GCash Forest aims to rally a coalition of individuals, non-government organizations, and
international organizations to meet its 2020 targets. To plant trees through GCash Forest, GCash users need to collect “green energy” by frequently using the app. Users who get enough green energy can choose which species of trees they want to plant in a selected area at the Ipo watershed. Once the trees are physically planted, users get to receive a certificate of ownership with a serial number, fun facts and updates on the growth of their trees on their GCash apps.

“Many Filipinos, especially the younger ones, care about the environment but a lot of them don’t know how they can actively take part in environmental protection. This is a barrier that GCash Forest
addresses because they only need to use their smartphones—an already integral part of their daily
lives—to make a difference,” concluded Thomas.

The new feature is inspired by Alipay Ant Forest, a product operates by Ant Financial, an Alibaba affiliate and the parent company of the world’s leading payments and lifestyle platform, Alipay. Via the mobile platform, more than 500 million users have planted 100 million real trees and advanced a shared vision of sustainable and inclusive development.

“The GCash Forest shows digital technology holds a huge power to mobilize people in support of
sustainable development and the fight against climate change. And this power goes beyond border and is at our fingertips through our mobile devices,” said Yan Meng, Ant Financial’s Global Head of
International Partnerships. “We’re more than happy to open up our technology and expertise to current and potential partners to make the world a better place.”

“As we work on rehabilitating the Ipo watershed and securing Metro Manila’s water supply, partnering with GCash enables us to continue rallying a vast network who could grow our
movement of restoring our forests and protecting our biodiversity.”  -Joel Palma-President, WWF-Philippines

“We are depleting our natural wealth at an unimaginable rate. While the Philippines is mega
diverse it is also a hot-spot given the extent of the threat to our natural environment.  There is
no one magic bullet that can turn the situation around.  We need diverse actors to engage and
find diverse solutions. And we need unusual partnerships – which in time will become usual
partnerships.  GCash, WWF and DENR are now embarking on one to reduce our carbon
footprint and help the Philippines meet its reforestation targets.  UNDP through BIOFIN is
delighted to bring these actors together to stem the tide on our rapid loss of forest cover.”
Titon Mitra-Resident Representative UNDP

Philippine Biodiversity
 The Philippines is one of the 17 mega biodiverse countries. It is among the countries that
contain two-thirds of the Earth’s biodiversity and 70 percent of world’s plants and animal
species due to its geographical isolation, diverse habitats and high rates of endemism.
 Thirty percent of the population, including 12 to 15 million indigenous people, resides in the
uplands where most of the forests are located.
 Haribon Foundation forester Thaddeus Martinez said the country needs 54 percent of forest
cover to protect against landslides and ensure water availability from watersheds, but currently
we are at around 22% forest Cover
 Around 1.2 million hectares of denuded and degraded forest lands of the country need to be
rehabilitated by 2022
 The Philippines is one of the world’s hotspots with a large number of endangered and
threatened species–making it a top global conservation priority area.
 The country hosts more than 52,177 described species of which more than half is found
nowhere else in the world. On a per unit area basis, the Philippines probably harbors more
diversity of life than any other country on the planet.
 According to 2011 FAO data, the forestry sector contributed US $ 528.7 million to the economy,
which is approximately 0.2 percent of the GDP.
 At least 49 thousand people are directly employed by the forestry sector.
 The Philippines is losing approximately 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year
 There are 237 terrestrial fauna (animals) are threatened with extinction and - 984 threatened
Philippine plants
 The Philippines still ranks among the top ten countries with the largest number of species
threatened with extinction (CI, 2013)
Ipo Watershed
 Ipo watershed is a vital link in the Angat-Umiray-Ipo watersheds system which supplies around
98% of the water needs of Metro Manila.
 Primarily consisting of public forestlands, forest cover in the area has dramatically dropped from
85% to just 40% in recent years.
 The main thrust of the project is to go beyond the usual tree planting activities and expand it to
forests management to help ensure that the planted trees will actually grow to provide their full
benefits to the environment and the different stakeholders. This will include rehabilitation and
enhancement of existing forests and not just the reforestation of denuded areas. A long-term
sustainability plan will be put in place, managed by an effective management body.
 Philippine watersheds and aquifers could supple 479 billion cubic meters of water annually for
domestic, industrial and agricultural uses.
Philippine Forests
 Philippines lose 47k hectares of trees annually.
 Haribon Foundation forester Thaddeus Martinez said the country needs 54 percent of forest
cover to protect against landslides and ensure water availability from watersheds. Forest
Coverage is currently at around 22%.
 Around 1.2 million hectares of denuded and degraded forest lands of the country need to be
rehabilitated by 2022.
 Total Forest Cover has decreased from 7,168,400 (2003) to 6,839,717 (2010)

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