Not even the global threat of the COVID-19 pandemic can stop advocates from saving planet Earth, as the number of GCash Forest Green Heroes recently hit an all-time high of 3 million users.
GCash Forest is a feature in the GCash app that allows people to plant and grow trees through their smartphones, each one having true to life counterparts in the Ipo Watershed within the Angat Watershed Forest Reserve in Norzagaray, Bulacan. This watershed is a major source of water supply to Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces.
This is a joint endeavor with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Biodiversity Finance Initiative Philippines (BIOFIN) to help restore Philippine forests, given that the country loses forest cover at an alarming rate of 47,000 hectares per year. Experts believe that without intervention, the country’s forests will disappear by 2036.
“This is the best thing that GCash Forest can ask for, especially since June officially represents the start of tree planting season in the Philippines. We continue to see encouraging support from more GCash users, who are now using their apps to support the cause for the environment,” GCash President and CEO Martha Sazon said.
Celebrating its first anniversary last June 25, GCash Forest aims to plant 365,000 virtual trees that turn to actual trees. After planting a total of 4,200 trees as of the end of 2019, WWF will resume the project this month. Since June marks the beginning of the rainy season in the Philippines, this also means that it is the best time for tree-planting.
GCash Forest lets users earn points by converting the amount of carbon emission avoided into “green energy points” whenever they do activities that leave less carbon footprints. Upon saving enough green energy points, GCash users can select a native tree to plant in the Ipo Watershed. A stamp will show up on their tree certificates once WWF plants the trees.
For example, if a GCash user walks instead of taking a ride to their destination, they can earn up to 276g. GCash Forest also rewards users for resorting to cashless transactions for their daily errands such as paying bills, buying load, or making bank transfers.
After a successful year for GCash Forest, green energy points can now be redeemed after 3 days from earning them instead of the previous 24-hour deadline to afford users more time to collect them. New species of trees are also available which are more "affordable" than Yakal.
“At WWF, our mission is to stop, and eventually reverse the accelerating degradation of the Philippine environment – to build a future where Filipinos live in harmony with nature. Through our partnership with GCash, we are able to tap the power of technology to encourage more Filipinos to be more mindful of the environment. We are encouraged by this development and we look forward to planting more trees with GCash Forest Green Heroes,” WWF PH Executive Director Joel Palma said.
More than tree planting, the main thrust of this campaign is to rehabilitate the watershed to secure supply of water for Metro Manila, maximize the benefits of the fully-grown trees to the biodiversity in the Ipo Watershed which includes reducing erosion, increasing groundwater recharge, mitigating pollution, and providing livelihood opportunities for the community.
“GCash is not just a digital financial services provider. We have always been mindful of the power of our platform, hence we implement various corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs such as GCash Forest. We believe that through GCash Forest, we will be able to help the Philippine forests to thrive once more and prevent the further denuding of our precious environmental treasures,” Sazon said.
Globe Fintech Innovations Inc. (Mynt), which operates GCash, is part of the portfolio companies of 917Ventures, the largest corporate incubator in the Philippines wholly-owned by Globe Telecom Inc.
GCash is available for download on the App Store and Google Play.