LANDBANK reforestation program opens opportunities for local community groups

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Left photo shows LANDBANK volunteers with members of the Buot Livelihood Association during a tree-planting activity in Brgy. Buot, Cebu City. Right photo shows Talubek Unified Development Association Chairman Dibu Mogul.


In 2016, LANDBANK set out to rehabilitate a 5-hectare upland site in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato under its Gawad Sibol Program. In partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), LANDBANK tapped a local People’s Organization, Talubek Unified Development Association (TUDA), to help grow and maintain young trees in the area.

Two years later, 2,500 trees – 750 indigenous forest trees, 763 fruit trees, and 987 coffee plants – have been planted in the upland area of Traankini, Lamlahak in Lake Sebu. TUDA continues to care for the adopted site – providing the T’boli group additional income to augment their day-to-day living while allowing them to protect the forest areas that their community calls home.

The income earned from the program is equally distributed among members but priority is given to the education of members’ children. “We are very happy to support LANDBANK’s Program because it helps us. Because of Gawad Sibol, we are able to send our children to school, in fact two already graduated from college,” said TUDA Chairman Dibu Mogul.


Buot Livelihood Association

Also a Gawad Sibol partner is Cebu’s Buot Livelihood Association (BULAI) – a local organization made up of 40 - predominantly female- members.

With meager income derived from upland and lowland farming which yield low-quality crops, BULAI members would take other jobs like doing laundry for households, peddling native delicacies, and other odd jobs to make ends meet.

This all changed when the association partnered with LANDBANK in 2016 and the members started earning additional income from planting and maintaining hardwood and fruit-bearing trees in the 5-hectare adopted site.  They now look forward to their harvests of mango, langka, and guyabano and were able to secure a contract with a food processing corporation which agreed to buy the guyabano fruits once available for harvest.

“BULAI officers and members are thankful for the GSP because it has given us, especially our women members, means to augment our income.  Because of the program, we were also able to build our organization’s office which was impossible then,” said BULAI Chairman Josephine Barliso.

Traankini in South Cotabato and Buot in Cebu are just two of the 13 sites that LANDBANK has adopted under the third phase of its Gawad Sibol Program. 


Beyond reforestation

Previously known as the LANDBANK Adopt-a-Watershed Program, Gawad Sibol was launched in 2006 to help reforest watersheds across the country and minimize floods in the covered areas, in line with the government’s National Greening Program.

Now on its third phase, the program goes beyond protecting and nurturing watersheds across the country as it also provides livelihood opportunities to local community groups.

“Gawad Sibol forms part of LANDBANK’s commitment to environmental protection and sustainable development, through which we seek to promote greater social responsibility and environmental consciousness, especially among local communities, while also providing them with means to improve their livelihood,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Alex V. Buenaventura.

In cooperation with DENR, the GSP has partnered with 25 local community groups, particularly indigenous people and peoples’ organizations to ensure the program’s success and sustainability.

Since the Program’s inception, a total of 132,300 hardwood, mangroves, and fruit-bearing trees were planted – with an average survival rate of 93.24% among all planted trees during the first and second phase. By the end of the program’s third phase, the program will have covered 114 hectares of upland watersheds in 25 sites across 18 regions nationwide.

The program has also provided volunteerism opportunities to LANDBANK’s employees. “Around 5,000 LANDBANK volunteers nationwide have so far planted 20-25 trees each who in turn also enjoin their friends and families, in effect creating what we hope would create a chain of greater environmental concern among Filipinos,” Buenaventura added.