EDC to tackle community participation under BINHI program in Negros Island

By Jennifer Catan-Tilos

NEGROS ORIENTAL (PIA) – The need for a multi-sectoral participation to grow and manage forests for a greener Negros Island will be tackled in a Stakeholder Consultation for Energy Development Corporation’s (EDC) expansion BINHI program tomorrow in Dumaguete City.

EDC believes that it takes more than planting a tree seedling to nurture the future with other stakeholders.

This EDC realized in the six years that it has been implementing its own BINHI greening legacy program.

EDC launched its Binhi in 2008, which aims to reforest 1,000 hectares per year for the next ten years.

At the Southern Negros Geothermal Project (SNGP) located in Negros Island, most of the trees that the company planted were in the towns of Valencia, Dauin, and Zamboangita in the Mt. Talinis area where it was able to reforest 935 hectares.

Beyond doing its share to help address climate change, BINHI wants to ensure that the diversity of our Philippine forests and its vanishing native tree species are restored.

Led by the company’s dedicated Watershed Management and Corporate Social Responsibility teams, BINHI revolutionized corporate greening by using science to achieve its sustainable broad-scale reforestation and biodiversity conservation goals.

EDC Watershed Management head in Negros Island Abba Grace Sanchez said BINHI’s Tree for Life aims to bridge forest gaps, biodiversity research and rehabilitation of forestlands covering key biodiversity areas in the country.

This is done either through assisted natural regeneration or through rainforestation to continue providing ecological services while being safeguarded, Sanchez said.

With almost 1,100 hectares  of total reforestation in the Mt. Talinis area from 1998 to 2014 for combined non-BINHI and BINHI projects, EDC was able to plant almost one million trees.

“Having planted so many trees over the years, the company has recognized that there is still so much more to be done if it really wants to achieve a greener future not only for Negros Island, but for the entire country,” Sanchez said.

She confirmed that even if they still have four more years to go for BINHI, there is already a need to expand the program and have more partners who are committed to the environment to improve forest cover and maximize its environmental benefits.

EDC’s 15 farmers’ associations in Negros Oriental have been helping the company protect and maintain its BINHI areas for their livelihood.

Sanchez said the farmers get compensated so they can provide for their family’s needs.

“This practice of social forestry is a huge part of the geothermal leader’s Community Partnerships program that is anchored on Health, Education, Livelihood and Environment or what their employees fondly refer to as HELEn,” added Sanchez.

Among the company’s institutional partners are Bencab Art Foundation,Inc., the local government Don Salvador Benedicto in Negros Occidental, Philippine Science High School, and the provincial government of Southern Leyte and the University of the Philippines-Diliman that both set up an arboretum of threatened species with EDC last year.

EDC employees from its geothermal business units also make it a habit to join each BINHI tree planting in their partner schools and public parks.

“Imagine what having more partners in our expanded BINHI program can do to our ecosystem and the economic benefits that it can bring to people and groups that will be devoted to it,” said Sanchez.

Apart from reforestation, the advanced program will become a movement that will focus on forest restoration to re-establish original forest ecosystems and provide the greatest benefit by increasing biodiversity in deforested areas.

Long- term gains such as health, safety and security but also immediate profits from ecosystem-based enterprises such as ecotourism, seedling production, and environmental jobs for their constituents can be achieved.

Still, expanding an already huge BINHI greening legacy program is a challenging endeavor that needs careful planning and deliberate execution.

To do this, EDC will pilot this advanced program in Negros Island after consulting key stakeholders and if they have enough committed partners from Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental.

From 2009 to 2014, EDC has reforested 6,609 hectares around the country using 4,580,439 premium native trees, fruit-bearing trees, and high-value commercial trees under the BINHI Tree for Life and Tree for Food modules.

It has likewise planted 2,900 premium, native and endangered trees with more than a hundred partner institutions.

Eighty-eight or 92% of its target 96 priority premium endangered and indigenous tree species of the country have been rescued through the company’s Tree for the Future module.

Government agencies, local governments, NGOs, the academe, the religious sector, private companies, youth groups, the media, and even individuals are invited to partner with EDC and do its share.

EDC is the country’s leading producer of geothermal energy and a multi-awarded Filipino company in the areas of geothermal development, environmental excellence, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. (rmn/jct/PIA7-Negros Oriental/This article was first published at PIA Website on Aug. 26, 2015)

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