THE Aboitiz Group said it is on track to hit its goal of planting nine million trees by 2020, as part of its Simultaneous Tree Planting (STP) initiative.

In a statement, the Aboitiz Group said it has already planted a total of 6.6 million trees or 73% of target as of 2018.

STP is under A-Park, the group’s environmental program that supports the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Expanded National Greening Program (ENGP).

Aboitiz renewed its partnership with the DENR on Wednesday, in time for World Environment Day.

Under the memorandum of agreement, the DENR will “offer additional support by mobilizing all its bureaus, attached agencies, and DENR regional offices to provide support for the implementation of the A-Park project; providing technical assistance in identifying possible site, for planting and species-site matching; and assisting in the documentation of planted trees, which includes geo-tagging, plantation registry, and mapping, among others.”

“This MOA signing is a crucial step towards ensuring continuity in making a positive impact on our national development. It represents the essence of the Aboitiz Group purpose and brand promise: to drive change for a better world by advancing business and communities,” Sabin M. Aboitiz, executive vice-president of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. (AEV), said in a statement.

In July, the company will hold its annual STP wherein about 95,000 seedlings will be planted nationwide by Aboitiz members and stakeholders.

With a target of nine million trees planted would also mean the conversion of 189,000 tons of carbon dioxide into oxygen, or about 9,000 hectares of lush reforested areas, which is more than 37 times the size of Bonifacio Global City.

“We strongly believe and adhere to the DENR’s mandate to protect the environment and we anchor our initiatives to the ENGP to sustain ecological balance. Our enduring partnership with the DENR for community-based forest management is a testament to our shared responsibility and highlights our contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on Climate Action,” Mr. Aboitiz said.

Aside from STP, the Aboitiz Group’s other environmental programs include waste reduction, the “Race to Reduce” program, and the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park which is home to endangered hawksbill turtle or pawikan. — V.M.P.Galang