Why is MWSS going ahead with the Annual Million Tree Challenge program (the “Challenge”) given the current situation with COVID-19?
Ever since the Challenge was launched in 2017, there has been a marked perking up of attitudes towards water, watershed, and the community. The actual number of trees planted in the watersheds of Angat, Marikina, La Mesa and Ipo have exceeded the yearly 1 million target as increased awareness on the importance of sustainable watershed gained greater impetus. Every year too, saw an increase in new corporate partnerships along with increase in the number of pledges.
With the coronavirus threat, the number of trees planted in the watershed areas dropped significantly as pledges from partner agencies were either withdrawn and trimmed down. But the MWSS is resolute that the Challenge must continue. The AMTC is not just about the simple planting of trees, but part of a huge and intertwined strategies and systematic planting and nurturing efforts among corporate partners and watershed communities. The threat of the virus must not obscure the successes of past efforts. The more trees are planted, the more we can maintain the health of the environment, and achieve the vision of a water secure future.
To kick start the general awareness into action on the need to plant trees, MWSS led on 13 October the planting of some 8,000 narra trees at the Kaliwa watershed together with representatives from the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, DPWH and PNP Region 4A, Northern Builders Construction, community residents, and DENR who also provided the saplings. Covid-19 health protocols were strictly observed as planters maintained physical distancing, enhanced protection via wearing masks, and cleaned and disinfected their tools at the start and end of the planting activity.
MWSS Chairman Reynaldo Velasco, who led the tree planting activity, said, “Coronavirus will eventually subside as a health threat, but the threat of climate change will not. Reforestation mitigates climate change and should be continued as part of our new “normal.”