Sunday, March 14, 2010

Veco targets 1 million trees

Veco targets 1 million trees
By Aileen Garcia-Yap
Cebu Daily News

March 10, 2010

At least 1 million trees will be planted in Cebu over a three-year period as part of a commitment by the Visayan Electric Company (Veco).

Reforestation is one of the conditions in the electric company's Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

Another power firm, Cebu Energy Develoment Corp., has a similar quota of trees to plant, said Juanito Cua, chief of the Forest Reserve Conservatory Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 7.

“This is not only for Veco and CEDC but for all companies who come and get ECCs from us. It's one of the conditions that we stipulate in the certificates,” Cua said about tree planting.

To roll out the project, Veco is donating P19,402,000 to the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) in the Visayas as its partner in planting trees in the hillylands and coastal mangroves.

A memorandum of agreement (MOA) to release the funds in four tranches will be signed today by Veco's chief operating officer Jaime Jose Aboitiz and PBSP-Visayas executive committee chairman Jose Antonio Aboitiz along with Eileen Mangubat, chairman of the foundation's Cebu hillyland development committee.

The PBSP, which has environment conservation and poverty reduction among its main thrusts, will identify a 540-hectare reforestation site in the Central Cebu Protected Landscape and a 10-hectare mangrove reforestation site in Mactan.

Veco will provide the manpower and have a tree nursery in the uplands.

The foundation will provide seedlings of native tree species and negotiate with farmers to prepare the planting sites and maintain the reforestation project,to ensure the seedlings will grow to maturity. PBSP Visayas, which leads annual reforestation caravans during the rainy season, started its development efforts in the hillly lands in Cebu City in 1988.

Ethel Natera, Veco orporate communications manager, said the firm decided to partner with PBSP because “they already have the expertise and are better experienced than us. We believe we can better manage the project with their help.”

CEDC, which recently installed coal-fired plants in Toledo City, has set aside at least P4 million for its “Kabilin” environment project launched in October last year.

The legacy project will benefit the host city of Toledo by providing additional livelihood for people they can hire for the project needs like the nursery, planting of the trees and caring for the planted trees.

Jesus N. Alcordo, CEDC president, said they will invest P40,000 per hectare for an initial 100 hectare reforestation project under the Kabilin program.

“We target producing 70,000 seedlings in our nursery every year,” Alcordo said.

About 2,500 seedlings have been planted in barangay Sapangdaku, Toledo City as a start said Mae Catherine Melchor, corporate communications officer.

“We also have a partnership with the PBSP for our Buhisan Watershed Buffer Zone tree planting but we still can implement it because according to our consultant the success rate is too low if we plant in that site,” Melchor said quoting Alix Yao, their technical consultant.