As one of the country’s leading developers of sustainable estates Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) is well aware of the fact that carbon emissions coming from all of its projects are part of the increasing problem of global warming.
Knowing its responsibility, the company aims to offset or neutralize the carbon emissions of its commercial properties by 2022. To achieve this aggressive target, one of ALI’s plan is the dedication of around 450 hectares of land as carbon forests.
According to Ana Maria Gonzales, sustainability manager of ALI, the carbon forests are located in five sites all over the country. The 148-hectare timberland in Sicogon, Iloilo and the 50-hectare lowland forest in Lio in El Nido, Palawan are integrated into the estate’s master plan as part of the development’s nature trail areas. There’s also a 133-hectare mixed vegetation site in Alaminos, Laguna, a 63-hectare restored forest in Kan-irag, Cebu and a 54-hectare wetland forest in Talomo, Davao.
In partnership with Center for Conservation Innovations, Inc. (CCI), a study was conducted in the forest sites and were estimated to have hold about 68,000 tons of carbon emission equivalent in 2017. The sites are currently undergoing assisted natural regeneration or ANR – a process of leaving an area alone to let trees and other vegetation grow there by natural means (particularly with the help of animals).
ANR is a technique by the Pag-asa foundation that was pioneered in Bohol and is now widely used in other countries in Southeast Asia.
Aside from ANR, ALI has partnered with community-based non-government organizations like Pusod Inc. in
Alaminos, Soil & Water Conservation Foundation in Cebu, and the Philippine Eagle Foundation in Davao for their expertise in reforestation, native tree nursery management and volunteer mobilization. Local communities located near the forest sites will also be encouraged to get involved or to volunteer in its protection, enhancement planting of indigenous species.
“We can also call it volun-TOUR-ism because these are actually beautiful sites or destinations,” Gonzales said.
While the creation of carbon forests is just one way to offset carbon emissions, other strategies that ALI will undertake are passive cooling and the use of renewable energy. Based on their forecast, Gonzales said with their three-point strategy, ALI expects a 50 percent reduction of its overall carbon emissions by the end of this year.
The overall strategy, Gonzales added, doesn’t only help reduce global warming. It also creates value to the environment, where air and water quality improve, and value to the community as well.
“The priority is to secure what carbon forest ALI already has designated,” said Dr. Neil Mallari, president of CCI. “Other entities need to follow suit. The rate of deforestation is still very fast.”