Filipinos nowadays can feel it. Our forests are in great danger. With all the illegal logging going on, most of our mountains are already showing many triggers of environment destruction that can lead to landslide, floods, and even climate change.
And we’re not done yet! Philippine Forests actually loses 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. And the total Forest Cover has decreased from 7,168,400 (2003) to 6,839,717 (2010)
So there’s a call for action that needs to work on to save our forests. 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.
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.