April 4, 2019

Looking Back on the TREE-lling First Year of the BFF Movement and Forward to the Future

A year ago, on the International Day of the Forest, the Best Friends of the Forest (BFF) Movement was born. The BFF Movement is a community of young and action-oriented environmentalists, artists, travelers, and social entrepreneurs founded by the Forest Foundation of the Philippines. The group aims to inspire and enable more millennials to be advocates of forest conservation and protection.

The need for millennials to take up the mantle of conservation for their generation is more urgent than ever before. “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 a year ago, at the launch of the BFF Movement.

More of an inclusive group than an exclusive club, anybody with a heart for forest conservation can join the BFF Movement. In their first year, they have gathered the support of many outspoken environmental advocates and have gotten the attention of young people looking for ways to make the world a better place.

The first BFF Talk was held on July 28, 2018, entitled Creation, Conservation and Communities, with forest conservation advocates and certified Best Friends of the Forests Jen Horn and Niccolo Jose. They talked about how social enterprises and art can be a platform for forest conservation and protection. As an artist himself, Niccolo expounded on the power of the arts in raising awareness on environmental issues and stirring people into taking action for forest conservation and protection. Partner organizations such as Bambike, Woven Crafts, Philippine Coffee Alliance, and the National Museum were also there to lend their expertise on social entrepreneurship.

Then there’s the BFF Trail Event that took a group of young environmentalists, travel enthusiasts, artists, and nature lovers on a hike through the La Mesa EcoPark where their guides, UP Mountaineers Lee-Ann Canals and Fredd Ochavo, helped them appreciate the biodiversity of Philippine forests. They also learned the nuances of conservation, the importance of native trees, and the importance of birds in biodiversity conservation with UP Professor Gerry de Villa. The success of the BFF Trail has gotten many talking and asking when the next one would be.

Today, on March 21, 365 days from its foundation, the International Day of the Forest again, the BFF Movement celebrates its first anniversary. Tonight’s event is very much in line with the group’s initiatives all year — a fun and informative activity advocating for the environment with friends and fellow nature lovers: a “Treevia” Night.

The BFF Treevia Night brought together all its advocates and the organizations who have supported the movement from day one.  But apart from looking back and taking in all the memories, the event participants, media and BFF advocates tested each other’s wits in the BFF Treevia game. The forest lovers may think they know the Philippine forests by heart, but the game reveals trivias that even the most die-hard advocates are not aware of. Classic questions on general knowledge, music and pop culture tested everyone in the room.

The year saw the BFF Movement grow from a few forest conservation enthusiasts to include more young people from all walks of life. The more BFFs, the bigger the difference that the group would be able to affect. Moving forward into its second year, the BFF Movement aims to continue to grow a community of forest conservation advocates who support the cause beyond special events and activities, making it a natural part of their lives.