GCash, RAFI to grow mangrove forest

MANGROVES seem tiny when planted. But they grow massive in size and strength; they turn into beautiful mangrove forests as they age and protect coastlines and marine life.

With the Philippines constantly at threat from typhoons, flooding, and other extreme natural calamities, mangroves play a critical role in the protection of coastal communities. Their thick and lush covering, grown over time, protect coastal communities from the onslaught of the seas during bad weather and provide the perfect home for marine life.

Mangroves continue to be an excellent resource to coastal communities. Despite their benefits, mangroves remain at threat across the world. A World Bank report states that between 1980 to 2005, 19 percent of the world’s mangroves had been lost. In the Philippines, mangroves have been lost to land conversion.

To assist in the conservation and restoration of mangroves in the Philippines, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. One to Tree program (Rafi OTT) and GCash have joined forces in nurturing more mangrove forests across Cebu Province.

The GCash Rafi Mangroves Project aims to plant 550,000 mangroves in Daanbantayan, San Remigio and Medellin in the Province of Cebu, covering a total area of 55 hectares. The project will support and help coastal communities and their surrounding marine biodiversity.

GCash has so far donated P22,168,184.78 to the project, supporting the production of native seedlings, maintenance and monitoring of 550,000 mangroves. Rafi OTT will provide extensive technical assistance in the production, maintenance, monitoring, and reporting of the grown mangrove seedlings.

Rafi OTT will work closely with communities and partner farmers in the implementation of the project. The program will provide extensive technical training and oversight over seedling production to ensure the survival of mangrove seedlings.

“GCash has been a valued partner of Rafi One To Tree. Over the last year, we have worked with GCash in establishing native tree nurseries and helping recover tree cover lost in the Philippines. The GCash Rafi Mangrove Project is our latest project together and we are excited to work with them in growing mangrove forests together in Cebu Province,” said Anthony Dignadice, executive director of Rafi One To Tree.

GCash is committed to build environmentally conscious and civic-minded communities genuinely concerned for the environment. Through its cutting-edge technology and establishing impactful partnerships, GCash takes an active role in minimizing the effects of climate change.

“We are very pleased to be able to continue our reforestation activities with the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. Through our shared value of sustainability, we will be able to grow mangrove forests together and help build more sustainable and disaster-resilient communities in the future,” said Martha Sazon, president and chief executive officer of GCash.

The GCash Rafi Mangroves Project will run for a duration of 33 months.

“This new project in cooperation with Rafi is a concrete testament of our environment, social and governance aspirations in GCash. As announced recently, we planted one million trees nationwide as of end February and we are positive that through this initiative, we will be able to plant more together with our GForest champions all over the country,” adds Chito Maniago, vice president for corporate communications and public affairs of GCash.

GForest champions can now plant mangroves through their GCash app. One can visit GForest and start collecting enough energy points to plant your own mangrove seedling.

Rafi One To Tree (formerly known as Rafi Biodiversity Conservation Unit) has been active in reforestation and conservation for over two decades and has achieved more than 80 percent survival rate for native tree growing. Rafi OTT also assists companies in the service delivery of Environmental Compliance Certificate requirements set by the Philippine Government, as well as helping them achieve carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation goals.