By Vincent Mariel P. Galang, Reporter

MOBILE money platform GCash has committed to help reforest 300 hectares of the 7,236-hectare Ipo watershed in Norzagaray, Bulacan.

On June 10, GCash signed an agreement with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines for the reforestation, protection, and management of the adopted area.

GCash will be sponsoring the planting of trees in the area. For three years, WWF Philippines will monitor and report the status of these trees, which is the average period in order to see in an area being rehabilitated or reforested.

“As a company, we are constantly looking for ways to help build a better, stronger, more environmentally secure nation. Through this project, we hope to contribute to water security, as well as the creation of sustainable cities and communities in the Philippines,” Anthony Thomas, president and chief executive officer of Mynt or Globe Fintech Innovations, Inc., said in a statement.

Mynt is the operator of GCash.

The Ipo watershed was declared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as a protected area, but its forest cover has drastically dropped to 40% from 85% for the past years due to illegal activities such as illegal logging, charcoal-making, and slash-and-burn farming.

If these activities continue, a water crisis may likely occur. Ipo is part of the Angat-Umiray-Ipo watershed system, which supplies 98% of Metro Manila’s water.

Watersheds need trees since they absorb rainwater which it channels into streams, rivers, and dams where people source their water.

The reforestation of the watershed will also involve the DENR and the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) Philippines. More details about the partnership will be announced on June 25, which is noted to be the first in the Philippines.

“The most important aspect on the partnership with GCash is their platform. Millions of Filipinos use their platform, and since it’s a financial platform it can make it a lot easier for people to help us in our work for the environment,” Paolo B. Pagaduan, project manager of WWF Philippines, told BusinessWorld after a forum by GCash on Tuesday.

“Primarily, one is providing the funds, but the platform that will be launched in raising awareness and educating the people, and eventually, tracking the progress of what they are donating,” Mr. Pagaduan said.

Anabelle E. Plantilla, project manager of BIOFIN, told BusinessWorld that BIOFIN’s partnership with GCash raises awareness on biodiversity conservation.

“At the same time, (the partnership with GCash) mobilizes resources for priority actions indicated in our Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. The results of this partnership will contribute to the Philippine commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 15 (Life on Land) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals),” she said.