7 June 2019, Sierra Madre Mountains, Siniloan, Laguna. There is only one company that has planted with FEED as often as 12 times, and it is Aspen Philippines, Inc. “Aspen has a proud heritage dating back more than 160 years. The Group is committed to sustaining life and promoting healthcare through increasing access to its high quality, effective, affordable medicines and products.” (Source: https://www.aspen.ph/about/corporate-overview/)
ASPENites clearly have a special kind of connection with nature. Ms. Ace “Marcelina” Itchon, Aspen Philippines, Inc. Chairman & President (also a FEED Ambassador) and her team of EcoWarriors invest in securing the future of our environment for generations to come by planting trees every year, not only in upland reforestation projects for water security & storm defence, but also in coastal areas for flood protection and livelihood development; they also focus on food security of our fellowman by teaching them how to produce their own organic food through FEED’s respective Mangrove Rehabilitation & Food Forests program.
Aspen’s 11 employees trekked the lush Sierra Madre mountains several times in the last 3 years, clearly loving and enjoying the greenery, as they are measurably healthier and happier every time they return. Aspen’s Eco-Warriors are regularly exposed to nature as a means to help them to reduce stress in our fast-paced world and to give back in community service.
Aspen’s CSR program extends to community outreach through alternative livelihood support (community produced foods and site preparation) as well as education by contributing to FEED’s scholarship fund in pre-qualified state universities, such as the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU).
The volunteers attended the usual orientation meeting, with morning refreshments and native binalot chicken adobo lunch served and prepared by the community. The Sierra Madre mountains receive regular daily rains, which means less maintenance costs for our site partners and higher survival rates (FEED aims for minimum 85% survival, but typically achieves 95% upwards).
800 new Native Philippine forest trees (Malaruhat, Bani, Lipote, and Kupang) were added to the Sierra Madre mountain range in Siniloan, Laguna Province – Bani, Lauan, Lipote and Yakal trees from the nurseries managed by our forest guards.
Once planting was completed the group trekked back up through the bamboo forest to base camp, where they enjoyed a native binalot chicken adobo meal wrapped in banana leaves, with rice, bananas, tomatoes and water as it got very hot towards completing of planting the 800 trees by 1030AM.
Guests of FEED, part of the Students and Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE) – visitors from Peru who have moved to the Philippines to live here – Samanta Brandon and Richard Chikhani – also joined in the planting to add their own 5 trees each to the Sierra Madres. Thank you all!!
Planting trees contributes to increased public awareness on the importance of restoration of forests and the preservation of our biodiverse ecosystem, priceless national treasures that contribute to our water security, food security and storm defence mechanisms as part of our consolidated climate change mitigation efforts. ASPEN Philippines Eco-Warriors are True Nature Keepers!
Thank you Aspen Eco-Warriors!
|1. Jemelou J. Ang||7. Marcelina T. “Ace” Itchon|
|2. Celso P. Avena||8. Anne Ysabel T. Mutuc|
|3. Myrra Mae R. Catarroja||9. Dyan Marie Z. Valencia|
|4. Gerly Gail D. Dela Cruz||10. Poseidon B. Cachero|
|5. Ana Sabrina B. Fresco||11. Alyssa Monica O. Pingol|
|6. Ma. Cecilia C. Funelas|
Debrief: Status of (Philippine) Forests
“Forests are vital to life on earth. They are the richest of all ecosystems – covering only 8% of the planet and are home to two thirds of all known species of terrestrial plants and animals. Millions of people rely directly on forests for food, water, medicines and other basic materials. For these forest peoples the forest defines their culture and way of life. Within developing countries, one billion of the world’s poorest people depend upon forests for part of their livelihoods, and as many as 350 million people living in and around forests are heavily dependent on forests for their livelihoods and security.” -Greenpeace
The Philippines is one of the most severely deforested countries in the tropics and most deforestation has happened in the last 40 years. Estimates place forest cover in the Philippines in the year 1900 at 21 million hectares, covering 70 % of the total land area…
24.0% —or about 7,162,000 hectares—of Philippines is forested. Of this, 11.6% —or roughly 829,000 hectares—is classified as primary forest, the most biodiverse form of forest.
Change in Forest Cover: Between 1990 and 2000, Philippines lost an average of 262,500 hectares of forest per year. The amounts to an average annual deforestation rate of 2.48%. Between 2000 and 2005, the rate of forest change decreased by 20.2% to 1.98% per annum. In total, between 1990 and 2005, Philippines lost 32.3% of its forest cover, or around 3,412,000 hectares. Measuring the total rate of habitat conversion (defined as change in forest area plus change in woodland area minus net plantation expansion) for the 1990-2005 interval, Philippines lost 7.9% of its forest and woodland habitat.
Biodiversity and Protected Areas: Philippines has some 1196 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles according to figures from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Of these, 45.8% are endemic, meaning they exist in no other country, and 14.7% are threatened. Philippines is home to at least 8931 species of vascular plants, of which 39.2% are endemic. 5.1% of Philippines is protected under IUCN categories I-V.
Sierra Madre: Under Threat – A close look at illegal logging in one of the Philippines’ last remaining old growth forests*
By Greenpeace Southeast Asia, April 2006
Though published back in April 2006, much of the fact based findings in this report still prove relevant today.
“In 1992,the Philippine Government proclaimed 287,861 hectares of land area and 76,625 hectares of coastline water area of the Northern Sierra Madre Mountain Range (“Sierra Madre”) as part of a national integrated protected area system. Through the enactment of Republic Act 9125, the Sierra Madre was declared a natural park to further enhance its protected areas status.
Republic Act 9125 also provided the Sierra Madre an extra layer of protection (called the “buffer zones” covering adjacent areas one (1) kilometer wide from the boundaries of the Sierra Madre) to which restrictions and sustainable resource management strategies involving local communities and the private sector are similarly applied in order to repel threats to the protected area.
The law further declares that all primary (old growth) forests within the Sierra Madre including portions which have been previously declared as alienable and disposable, shall be classified as strict protection zones and shall be free from all forms of logging or exploitation, commercial or otherwise; except portions of primary forests which may be classified as sustainable use zones. Under the law, “sustainable use” is defined as— “the use of components of biological diversity in a way and at a rate that does not lead to the decline of the species used and not causing permanent or long-term diminishment or qualitative degradation of biological species, ecological functions or of other resources extracted or disturbed, thereby maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of the present and future Filipino generations”.
The law also enumerates the illegal acts within the Sierra Madre and the buffer zones. The illegal acts relating specifically to forest protection are:
- (i) Cutting, gathering, collecting or removal of timber or other forest products without prior permit from the Protected Area Management Board (“PAMB”); provided that any permit issued shall be valid for only one (1) year at a time and given only to – (a) tenured migrants in the Sierra Madre within sustainable, monitored and controlled quotas, and (b) for scientific purposes necessary for protected area management;
- (ii) Possession or use of chainsaws and band saws without prior permit from the PAMB; provided that permits may only be issued for multiple use and buffer zones; and
- (iii) Engaging in kaingin (slash and burn farming) or in any manner causing a forest fire inside the Sierra Madre or its buffer zones.
Despite the proclamation of the Sierra Madre as a protected area, there have been persistent reports or information that illegal logging activities continue to be conducted within the area….
It can be inferred that the wood furniture industry contributes to the continuing illegal logging in the Sierra Madre. Even so, the government will surely hesitate deprioritizing the wood industry sector due to economic importance. This is understandable, however, it will help to bear in mind that the country’s state of deforestation and loss of biodiversity have reached crisis proportions and for that matter hard choices have to be made. Ecological disasters, like landslides killing thousands at a time, and the growing threat to water quality and supply attributable to deforestation are harsh realities that can no longer be ignored. Indeed, for the Philippines, saving what is left of its forest cover has become a matter of survival.”
About Aspen Philippines, Inc.
Aspen Philippines Incorporated is the first South African pharmaceutical company in the Philippines. It started operating in January 2012 with only a handful of employees. But after a few months, it has rapidly increased to over 100 passionate Filipino staff.
With the company’s immediate and continued growth, its commitment becomes stronger. That is to meet the healthcare needs of Filipinos by providing a broad spectrum of high quality, effective, and affordable pharmaceutical products so that ultimately, lives can be sustained one day at a time.
Aspen Philippines’ range of products initially comprises of antibiotic, anti-hypertension, anti-gout, anti-platelet and anti-hypothyroidism. But the company continues to expand its reach, acquiring global brands in consumer healthcare, which include Dequadin, Kwell, and Valda Pastilles.
Now that Aspen has made its mark in the Philippines, Filipinos can now take advantage of an improved means to healthcare right at their fingertips.
More here: https://www.aspen.ph
Related ASPEN Articles
- Aspen & South African Embassy Celebrate Mandela Day by Planting 1,500 Organic Vegetables for Teodora Cruz Elementary School, Bulacan (18 July 2019)
- ASPEN Plants 2nd Food Forest & Garden for Dampol Elementary School, Bulacan (29 Mar 2019)
- Community Training to Grow Food with Balayong Elementary School – ASPEN’s 8th Planting with FEED (15 Dec 2018)
- Mandela’s Mangroves: ASPEN & South African Embassy Celebrate Madiba’s Centenary Through Planting (16 Jul 2018)
- ASPEN Reinforces the “Great Wall of Mangroves” with Bulacan’s Bantay Dagat (Dec 2017)
- “Ace” as FEED Ambassador. CEO of Aspen wants “to plant forever…” (Sep 2017)
- MAKE EVERY DAY A MANDELA DAY. Aspen Plants 200 Trees Honouring Madiba’s Legacy (July 2017)
- “You don’t have to be a forester to care for the environment”. Aspen Plants for the Fourth Time, Aiming to Reach their 1,500 Tree CSR Commitment in 2017 (July 2017)
- SAVE Participants Rehabilitate Philippine Forests that Help Improve the Quality of Human Life (June 2017)
- Millions of mangroves seedlings to be planted in Bulacan, Pampanga, Cavite (May 2017)
- Aspen Philippines Honors Mercury Drug Founder as FEED Tributes its Partners (April 2017)
- Living Legacies: Purposeful Planting for your Own Cause (Jan 2017)
FEED runs a number of Students and Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE); Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – such as mangrove planting for coastal protection or ridge reforestation plantings; One Child, One Tree; Bio-Intensive Gardens (BIG) for nutrition in public elementary schools and other spaces; Climate Change Survival 101 and other LIVING LEGACY programs – customised environmental engagement activities for individuals and organisations interested in contributing to climate change adaptation efforts and greening critical areas such as watersheds, ridges, and reefs that all require rehabilitation.
Tree-Planting with FEED: Video
Check out the video journey by Clueless Commuter who planted with us last 24th of June 2017 to get a good idea of how FEED plantings go: https://youtu.be/KROn4rjVqBg
© Fostering Education & Environment for Development, Inc.