NESTLÉ Philippines is set to plant 3.5 million trees in Mindanao over the next three years, composed of 2.5 million bamboo trees and 1 million native tree species.

Kais Marzouki, Nestlé Philippines chairman and chief executive officer, on Thursday said the reforestation initiative is part of the company's efforts to reach their target of achieving "net-zero" by 2050.

"This new reforestation initiative is going to strengthen our efforts and actually also trailblaze our involvement... as a force for good in society and for the planet," Marzouki said in a virtual briefing.

Emily Kunen, global sustainable sourcing leader of Nestlé, said the initiative is also part of their Forest Positive strategy where they committed to plant 200 million trees by 2030.

"This initiative today is part of that commitment and is one of our earliest projects that we're launching," Kunen continued.

Nestlé Philippines partnered with environmental groups One Tree Planted and EcoPlanet Bamboo for the reforestation program.

Alastair Jones, major projects manager of One Tree Planted-Asia Pacific, highlighted the benefits of reforestation, which includes improvement in air quality, water quality, biodiversity, health, impact in climate change and its societal impact.

"We are really big on making sure that reforestation isn't just about the trees. We work with our partners to work with the local community as well to make sure that there are economic incentives and benefits from reforestation," Jones said.

Meanwhile, Camille Rebelo, EcoPlanet Bamboo cofounder and chief operating officer, explained the importance of bamboo trees, especially in restoration and reforestation efforts.

"Bamboo is absolutely an incredible plant if it's grown in the right scenario and in the right framework," Rebelo said.

She noted that bamboo trees can grow on degraded land, reduce erosion, restore organic soils, provide canopy cover and stabilize water tables, among others.

Aside from being an important sourcing region for Nestlé, Rebelo said Mindanao also provides an "ideal framework" for the initiative.

Rebelo also explained why the native tree species are being combined with bamboo trees.

"The aim here is really to use the bamboo to connect remnant forest patches to provide these fast restoration benefits while also maximizing biodiversity to the extent possible," she said.

Kunen said the first phase of the bamboo and native species will be planted by August next year but preparations are already being done now.