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See Photos of the GCash Forest You Helped Plant During the Pandemic

Filipinos helped reforest 75 hectares of forest at Ipo Watershed through GCash. 
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Every now and then, GCash users are prompted to check on their “adopted tree” whenever they use the app: “Your forest needs you!” it reads. At first, we actually thought the “forest” was nothing more than a virtual concept peddled for more transactions, but we were wrong. 

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines, together with GCash, recently completed the reforestation of 75 hectares of Ipo Watershed through the millions of transactions made through GCash Forest.

Volunteers make their way through Ipo Watershed for tree planting.

Photo by Alo Lantin | WWF Philippines.

What is the GCash Forest? 

The GCash Forest is a feature in the GCash app that allows you to collect “green energy points” every time you make a transaction. If you collect enough points, GCash and its partners will plant a tree for you in Ipo Dam. WWF-Philippines was the partner for this project. 

Recent water shortages caused by siltation in Ipo Dam further stressed the need to protect and rehabilitate the crucial but damaged watershed.

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“The pandemic has shown how taking care of nature is actually about taking care of ourselves, and others on this planet. The rest of the world may have stopped, but those who take care of our environment did not,” said WWF-Philippines project manager Paolo Pagaduan.

The Forests for Water program, which Pagaduan oversees, has worked on the rehabilitation of Ipo Watershed since 2016. With their partners, WWF-Philippines works to secure the natural integrity of the watershed.

Reforestation During the Pandemic

Amid the pandemic, WWF-Philippines and GCash committed themselves to the immediate reforestation of the area surrounding Ipo Dam. To ensure the safety of their staff and volunteers, they decided to let them stay in the site since the start of the pandemic in March. This reduced the risk of spreading the virus among the locals.

A volunteer plants a seedling on the slopes of Ipo Watershed.

Photo by Alo Lantin | WWF Philippines.
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To ensure that the biodiversity will return to Ipo and that local wildlife will flourish, the seedlings used for reforestation were sourced from within Ipo Watershed. A nursery, established at the end of 2019, supplies seedlings from native trees already located within the watershed.

“We’re aware of the risks brought about by the pandemic, but our conservation work in Ipo Watershed is of utmost importance. With the locals of Ipo Watershed, we found newer, safer ways to keep on rehabilitating the watershed throughout the year,” added Pagaduan.

GCash has supported the reforestation and rehabilitation of Ipo Watershed since 2018. Through GCash Forest, GCash aims to plant 365,000 seedlings across the country, 120,000 of which have been committed to Ipo Watershed.

The reforestation efforts are aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change in the Philippines.

A river cuts through the forests of Ipo Watershed. Ipo Watershed supplies 96 percent of Metro Manila’s water supply.

Photo by Alo Lantin | WWF Philippines.
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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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