MWSS, concessionaires on track to meet targets of massive replanting effort

Published June 15, 2021, 12:45 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is confident that it will meet its five-year target for its massive replanting program within some of the region’s most crucial watersheds.

In a statement, stakeholders of the Annual Million Trees Challenge (AMTC) stressed their commitment to plant one million trees this year to meet AMTC’s five-million trees target in five years.

Four years after its maiden launch in 2017, MWSS Chairman and Acting Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco said AMTC is on the right track.

So far, over four million trees have already been planted in the identified denuded areas of the watersheds.

This, while about 9,509.375 hectares of watersheds surrounding Angat, Ipo, Kaliwa, La Mesa, Laguna Lake, Umiray, and Upper Marikina, including Manila Bay, have already been reforested by the program, based on the audit report by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). “One of the remarkable accomplishments of AMTC is increasing the forest cover of Ipo Watershed from 43 percent in 2017 to 81 percent in 2020,” Velasco said.

The AMTC is a five-year watershed rehabilitation program of the MWSS to restore the health of seven critical watersheds that are crucial in supplying water to Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.

It also supports the National Greening Program of the government under the DENR.

AMTC is now a joint venture effort among MWSS, DENR, and their partners, including Manila Water Company Inc., Maynilad Water Services, Inc., Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), the local government units (LGU), among others.

For this year, the following AMTC partner stakeholders have pledged to plant more than one million trees.

Of this commitment, MWSS committed to plant 140,000 trees; MWSS-Regulatory Office (23,000); Manila Water (70,000); Maynilad (20,000); Bulacan Bulk Water (20,000); DENR 3 (43,000); DENR 4A-PENRO Rizal (350,000); LLDA (100,000); Camp Nakar LGU (50,000); ALKFI-BL (40,000); WWF Philippines (60,000); Boy Scout of the Philippines (50,000); Bambuhay- Anak ni Inang Daigdig (60,000); JCI Senate Philippines (2,000); and Rotary International District 3780 (5,000).

To ensure the continuity of the AMTC and expand its coverage throughout the country, stakeholders have organized the Million Trees Foundation, Inc. (MTFI), now the official NGO partner organization of MWSS and DENR.

MTFI will actively help in the implementation of AMTC collaborating with individuals, groups, government, and other private organizations here and overseas to address watershed management concerns.

Among the initial institutional partners of MTFI include San Miguel Corporation President and CEO Ramon S. Ang, Manila Water President and CEO Enrique K. Razon, Maynilad President Ramoncito S. Fernandez, and Prime Infra.

On 25 May 2021, MTFI has forged a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the JCI Senate Philippines (JCISP) and the Philippine Jaycee Senate Foundation (PJSF) in support of AMTC’s watershed rehabilitation and enhancement initiatives.

The MOU was signed by MFTI President and Executive Director Melandrew T. Velasco, JCISP President Gregorio A. Lipa, and PJSF Chairman Nelson S. Tan with MWSS Chairman and Admistrator Velasco, Maynilad AVP for Government Relations and MTFI Director Annette de Ocampo, and JCI Sen. Lian Seelin of Greenlink serving as witnesses.

The JCISP and PJSF are involved in 24/7 borderless, pro-environment initiatives and programs to help mitigate global warming and the effects of climate change through their flagship project “Greenlink” chaired by JCI Sen. Lia Seelin.