‘Grow Trees Community’: All the way to Hamilo Coast

SM Foundation Inc. the social good arm of the SM group, and the Fast Retailing Foundation, a general incorporated foundation in Japan, formally launched the “Grow Trees Community” project in Nasugbu, Batangas on 27 September as the first stop of three provinces for their “treescaping” and reforestation initiative.

The Grow Trees Community project aims to plant and grow trees across the Philippines while helping create livelihood opportunities by working closely with the people’s organizations in the communities. The project also joins hands with Costa del Hamilo Inc., Manila Southcoast Development Inc. and the local government of Nasugbu.

“The core of our program is to go beyond planting trees,” said Cristie S. Angeles, SM Foundation Assistant Vice President for Livelihood. “It also addresses the social and economic needs of communities by providing them with the means to engage in agroforestry. With this in mind, we want to build a strong foundation to keep growing communities by fostering collaboration and leadership in caring for the environment.”

“Facilitating sustainable development is one of the core activities of FR Foundation and we support this program to further promote environmental stewardship, preservation and the economic development among communities,” said Yoshio Ishida, FR Foundation’s Secretary-General. “We are delighted to partner with SM Foundation who has an extensive experience in community development and tree planting programs in the Philippines.”

Some 8,400 Palawan Cherry blossom trees, locally known as balayong and the bell-shaped Tabebuia pink flowering trees are being planted along the 7-kilometer Tarnate-Nasugbu road leading to Hamilo Coast.

The project is also seen to enhance prospects for eco-tourism and, in turn, generate jobs for the community.

“This endeavor will definitely boost eco-tourism here in Nasugbu, with the flowering trees creating a picturesque view of the property,” said Franklin M. Bolalin, Assistant Vice President for Hamilo Estate Management. “This will promote not just Hamilo Coast, but also the local community, with no other property hosting this vast array of Palawan Cherry and other flowering trees.”

Since 2007, Hamilo Coast has looked after one of the largest mangrove forests in the province of Batangas in partnership with WWF Philippines. The 24-hectare mangrove belt is covered by lush 50,000 mangrove trees.

Three of Hamilo Coast’s coves, namely Pico de Loro, Etayo, and Santelmo, have been declared as Marine Protected Areas since 2009.

The sites serve as marine sanctuaries for diverse marine animals and a resilient locale for migratory and unique species of birds, now totaling 96, which includes the vulnerable Philippine eagle-owl (Bubo philippensis).

The presence of more trees in these areas will act as a natural protection against erosion and help absorb planet-warming greenhouse gases.

Grow Trees Community is in support of the SM Green Movement, which aims to improve the quality of life of communities through sustainable solutions that promote a green planet, green living and a green culture.

FR Foundation focuses on promoting research designed to help make the world a better place, spurring technological development, nurturing human resources, and supporting socially vulnerable individuals or groups.

It is part of Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., the leading Japanese retail company that owns well-loved casual wear brand Uniqlo.

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