MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is facing a rapid decline of forest cover—from 27 million hectares down to already as little as 7 million hectares. In fact, most of the country’s old growth forests are in danger of deforestation. Forests in Palawan, Sierra Madre, Samar and Leyte, and Mindanao are threatened by agricultural conversion and human settlements.
Along with the combined threats of logging activities, poor law enforcement, and mining projects in biodiversity-rich areas such as Palawan, the country is losing approximately 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year, according to the data provided by the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“The threat of deforestation has become so severe that we are losing forest cover at an alarming rate. If we do not take action, our forests may not be around for the next generation to see,” said Forest Foundation Philippines’ Executive Director, Atty. Jose Canivel.
The Best Friends of the Forest Movement
It is for this reason that the Forest Foundation Philippines has issued a call to action for students, conservationists, environmentalists, and nature lovers alike as it launched its youth-advocacy campaign, the Best Friends of the Forest Movement (BFF Movement).
“The youth are upbeat, hopeful, and they want to contribute to the greater good. We want to empower the youth and give them a platform to do good for the forests,” he added.
The movement will gather a community of environmentalists, travelers, social entrepreneurs and artists with the goal of inspiring and empowering the youth into action.
“Our mission is to engage and empower the next generation to take up the mantle of forest conservation and protection. All you need is one thing to be a BFF —you have to have the passion to take action and champion our forests.”
To achieve its goal of promoting forest conservation and protection, and building a community of advocates, the BFF Movement will tap into passion points such as Ecotourism, Arts & Culture, Social Entrepreneurship, and Environmental Conservation.
Along with activities such as nature trails, talks, workshops and fostering partnerships with other organizations, the BFF Movement engages the youth and takes them right into the heart of the action to help raise awareness and inspire their fellow millennials to champion the conservation and protection of our forests.
“We want our BFFs to openly share their passion, inspire, and bring awareness to pressing issues. This is all about channeling the advocacies for forest conservation and protection by engaging the passions of the youth. We hope to shape the next generation to advocate for the conservation and protection of the forests,” explains Atty. Canivel.
Meet the BFFs
New BFFs — woodworker, Niccolo Jose; doctor and environmentalist, Gideon Lasco; student group, U.P. Mountaineers; and MUNI’s Jen Horn were unveiled at the launch of the BFF Movement, with each BFF serving to embody the advocacies and passion points of the movement.
“Since I was 8 years old, I’ve been climbing mountains around the Philippines and having seen the beauty of the mountains, I feel that it’s my obligation to be part of efforts to protect them,” shared Pinoy Mountaineer and new BFF, Gideon Lasco, on his advocacy and mission as one of the first BFFs of the movement.
“By being part of the Best Friends of the Forest Movement, I look forward to engaging with others who share the same passion, learning more from fellow advocates and also reaching out to the youth and to people from all walks of life,” he added.
U.P. Mountaineer, Ara Peoro, explains the importance of being part of the BFF Movement, saying “with the BFF Movement, we hope to achieve two things—to inspire more, and to do more. We hope to inspire more outdoor and travel enthusiasts to be aware and more responsible about their environmental impacts.”
Be Part of the Movement
There are a lot of ways to help conserve and protect the forests. You can do this by helping:
- Grow forests. You can participate in tree-growing activities and report incidents of illegal logging and poaching to the proper authorities.
- Grow livelihoods. It is important to strike a balance between development and conservation. Using wood meaningfully and responsibly from sustainable sources enables us to meet our current needs, while implementing options to protect our forests for the future generations to meet their own needs. This also enables the continuity of economic opportunities for the forest-dependent communities.
- Grow partnerships. We can’t do it all. It’s important to work with other people and groups in this endeavor. You can support other efforts or even organize your own activities to help conserve and protect our forests.
- Grow advocates. By simply living the advocacy and sharing your passion for the forests can go along way—you can already help spread awareness and bring new advocates into the fold.
What part will you play to conserve and protect the forests? Take action now with the BFF Movement! For more information, log on to https://www.forestfoundation.ph/be-a-bff/.