GCash Forest Launched To Plant Trees Virtually and Literally

By law, Filipinos are required to plant one tree per year known as the Arbor Day act of 2012. But we highly doubt many would have complied to this due to the complexities of planting even just a single tree, and also the time and effort need to make it happen. Yet the need for trees is a must now. With climate change and man-made development of land causes strains in the environment, the ecosytem, and eventually into the lives of many people as the weather changes and many face a huge change in the air, the soil, and all living things who rely on the earth.

But with the help of a financial tech provider GCash, they devised a new way to educate and encourage people to help plant trees called "GCash Forest." With a lush and cool title, it aims not only raise awareness but also gather funding for the reforestation of heavily affected areas especially near critical watersheds and dams.

GCash Forest lets subscribers plant virtual trees that will have real-life counterparts. By the end of 365 days, GCash Forest aims to plant 365 thousand trees with the help of GCash subscribers.

“GCash Forest is about making it easier, more convenient, and even rewarding for everyone to take care of our environment for the benefit of future generations,” said Mynt CEO Anthony Thomas. “GCash is no longer just providing an excellent platform for accessible financial products and services but also  enabling Filipinos to be more active in responding to real-life issues, such as climate change mitigation through reforestation.”

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Forest Management Bureau (FMB), the Philippines is losing 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year. The FMB also reported the need to rehabilitate 1.2 million hectares of forest lands by 2022 to prevent landslides, ensure water availability, and preserve biodiversity..

GCash considers GCash Forest as a last mile initiative that fully recognizes  the emergence of an all-digital Filipino lifestyle. 

To implement its tree-planting initiatives, GCash Forest partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN). The DENR will provide land resources in Ipo Watershed, an essential component of the Angat-Umiray-Ipo watersheds system supplying 98 percent of Metro Manila’s water. WWF will be providing trees and manpower while BIOFIN will provide expertise on monitoring. 

Thomas added that recent findings on the Philippines’ vulnerability to climate-related hazards call for greater collective action. Results of the Global Peace Index 2019 identified the Philippines as the most susceptible country to the adverse effects of climate change. By leveraging the GCash platform and scale, GCash Forest aims to rally a coalition of individuals, non-government organizations, and international organizations to meet its 2020 targets. 

To plant trees through GCash Forest, GCash users need to collect “green energy” by frequently using the app. Users who get enough green energy can choose which species of trees they want to plant in a selected area at the Ipo watershed. Once the trees are physically planted, users get to receive a certificate of ownership with a serial number, fun facts and updates on the growth of their trees on their GCash apps.
“Many Filipinos, especially the younger ones, care about the environment but a lot of them don’t know how they can  actively take part in environmental protection. This is a barrier that GCash Forest addresses because they only  need to use their smartphones—an already integral part of their daily lives—to make a difference,” concluded Thomas. 

The new feature is inspired by Alipay Ant Forest, a product operates by Ant Financial, an Alibaba affiliate and the parent company of the world’s leading payments and lifestyle platform, Alipay. Via the mobile platform, more than 500 million users have planted 100 million real trees and advanced a shared vision of sustainable and inclusive development. 

“The GCash Forest shows digital technology holds a huge power to mobilize people in support of sustainable development and the fight against climate change. And this power goes beyond border and is at our fingertips through our mobile devices,” said Yan Meng, Ant Financial’s Global Head of International Partnerships. “We’re more than happy to open up our technology and expertise to current and potential partners to make the world a better place.”

With a current water crisis, and a huge problem on deforestation, I guess this can be our own way to help the environment it a very convenient and fun way that even kids can also do as well. And it is a serious threat that I would also like to advocate and hope that they would not only meet their target but also exceed them and make more projects for more places in the country. Now GCash is going beyond just financial services but also an environmental advocate as well.

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