The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is now on track for the nationwide expansion of the massive tree-planting project, Annual Million Trees Challenge (AMTC), nearly five years after it was launched.
On Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, MWSS will hold the Annual Million Tree Challenge Awards and Recognition, which will recognize the partners of AMTC and the country’s top water security advocates.
Launched in 2017, the AMTC is a five-year watershed rehabilitation program of the MWSS which aims to restore the health of seven critical watersheds – namely Angat, Ipo, Kaliwa, La Mesa, Laguna Lake, Umiray, and Upper Marikina – that are crucial in supplying water to Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.
Four years after its maiden launch, AMTC is poised to surpass its targets, having planted over four million trees already in 9,509.475 hectares of identified denuded areas of the aforementioned watersheds.
After surpassing targets, Reynaldo Velasco, MWSS Chairman and Administrator, said the AMTC is now on track for its nationwide expansion.
As part of this, the MWSS Board of Trustees recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the Million Trees Foundation Inc. (MTFI) for the latter to become the official non-profit institutional partner of the government for the implementation and expansion of AMTC.
“Watersheds are not only crucial in the provision of water for agricultural, domestic and industrial purposes. They also serve as habitats to diverse plant and animal species; and play other ecological functions such as flood mitigation. Illegal logging, grazing and mining are some of the human activities that have adversely affected the state of our country’s watersheds," Velasco, who also serves as the chairman emeritus of the MTFI, said.
"Despite the growing awareness of environmental protection among Filipinos, much still needs to be done to raise that awareness to the ideal level,” he added.
Velasco also said that for MWSS and its concessionaires, the critical state of the seven watersheds that are beneficiaries of the AMTC is a cause for worry because it greatly affects the water supply in the country’s busiest economic center.
"But we are making headway to achieve water security. Our progress can be gleaned from the increased population being served. To further improve this, we have embarked on water infrastructure projects. More can be done to improve the performance of the water industry sector. Better watershed management will definitely be a key,” he further said.
During the AMTC Awards and Recognition, the MTFI will be recognized as one the "Champions of Trees", who have committed to participate in the project as well as delivered.
AMTC partners include Maynilad Water Services, Inc., Manila Water Company Inc., Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation, Philippine Water Works Association, Inc., Rotary International District 3780, UP Beta Sigma International, Boy Scout of the Philippines, JCI Senate Philippines, Million Tree Foundation, Inc., MWSS Regulatory Office, Maynilad Water Services, Inc., Manila Water Company, Inc., DENR Region 3 – PENRO Bulacan, DENR Region 4 A – PENRO Rizal, DENR National Capital Region, Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), Municipality of General Nakar, Quezon, ABS CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc.- Bantay Kalikasan (ALKFI – BK), World Wide Fund for Nature– Philippines (WWF Philippines), UP Mountaineers, Inc., and Mga Anak ni Inang Daigdig, Inc.
A special plaque of appreciation will also be presented to MTFI President and CEO Melandrew Velasco, who led the efforts to conceptualize the AMTC project.
“Having been one of the think tank and primary movers of the AMTC, I am extremely elated on how far this project has come a long way in planting millions of trees and in protecting seven critical watersheds that are sources of potable water to Metro Manila and its environs,” Velasco said.