Last year, we broke records when the number of team member volunteers breached the 1,000 mark. Today, we welcome our 1,300-strong volunteers, who are stationed in 9 planting sites. The consistent high turnout truly demonstrates your commitment to our yearly simultaneous groupwide tree planting.
For the first time, we are broadcasting simultaneously in 9 planting sites via digital telecast. We have a live patch in sites 2 to 9, where our team members are joining our program real time, thanks to the power of technology that allows us to connect with each other despite the distance.
To those of you who are doing this for the first time, we warmly welcome you to our annual Groupwide Simultaneous Tree Planting. It is truly awe-inspiring to witness all of you gather every year and plant seedlings as one group. Our presence here attests to our commitment to combat climate change and make our planet a better place not only for ourselves or our loved ones, but more importantly, for the generations to come.
There is a saying that goes: a society grows great, when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.
As members of one Aboitiz Group, our core value of Responsibility drives us to do something about our dwindling forestlands and the threat this poses to our cities, towns, and homes. It is also our way of assisting the livelihood of our partner farmers and host communities.
Without a doubt, our annual tree planting is one of the most awaited events under our even larger A-Park program. It is through A-Park that we vow to grow not only with our communities, but also with our environment. Being mindful of our surroundings, limiting our impact to the planet, and doing what we can to mitigate the effects we have on our environment are central to our promise of advancing business and communities. It is this awareness that steers us towards sustainable and responsible growth. It is also our collective answer to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 15, which calls on everyone to combat forest denudation and to protect critical ecosystems from further degradation.
Our undertaking as protectors of our forestlands has led us to plant close to 6 million trees as of today, or 63% of our 2020 goal of 9 million trees. A-Park has already sequestered 120,000 tons CO2e since we started in 2003, which pretty much offsets our business office consumption of 52,000 tons CO2e in 2017. This is by no means a small feat, and I therefore urge all of you to further support this nationwide initiative.
The valuable assistance our partner farmers have extended in taking care of the trees helped us maintain a high survival rate of about 80%. This combined endeavor with our allies has enabled us to go far in helping reforest our nation through A-Park.
The Carbon Sink Management Program, implemented by Therma South Inc., serves as our flagship Mindanao reforestation initiative that targets to reforest 1,000 hectares of land within the Matigsalug Indigenous People’s ancestral domain in Davao City.
To reinforce our capabilities in Luzon, we partnered with the Philippine Business for Social Progress, or PBSP, to plant 500,000 trees in the Marikina Watershed – of which more than 100,000 have already been planted. In the Visayas, we are also working with the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation to plant another 500,000 seedlings. For the first year of this project, we target to plant 250,000 trees in various sites in Cebu.
Near our oceans, A-Park has also made big strides in maintaining the much-needed balance in our wetlands. Through the mangroves planted at the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park and Republic Cement’s Mangrove Reforestation Project, we remain active in protecting both our inland and marine sanctuaries.
With A-Park, we look to the future of our forests beyond the numbers we’ve set for ourselves. We will continue doing what we can, wherever and whenever we can make the most significant ripple for our communities here in the Philippines.
I wish to extend my biggest thanks to APRI MakBan for being our gracious host for four years in a row now. I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone in APRI for keeping an outstanding record of 20 million safe manhours! May you build on this milestone of excellence for many, many more years.
I would also like to thank our STP Committee composed of the various departments across the Group. We also would like to give our host communities our warmest appreciation for continuously supporting the Aboitiz Group’s A-Park initiatives and for tirelessly fulfilling the role of steward for our seedlings and young trees.
Of course, thank you to all of you who are here, devoting your very precious Saturday morning to support A-Park. Taking care of our one and only planet and reducing our impact together sends across a united message: that we as A-People are a strong force for environmental and societal good. Together, we make a big difference in starting and sustaining the change needed for the years to come. We owe it to those who have cared for our planet in the past, and we owe it to those who will succeed us in our roles as stewards of the future.
I’d like to end my message today by verbalizing another proverb: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the second best time is now.
Thank you and have a great day ahead!