FR Foundation Secretary-General Yoshido Ishida (right) plants flowering trees at the launch of Grow Trees Community in Nasugbu, Batangas

SM Foundation, Inc. the social good arm of the SM group, and the Fast Retailing Foundation (FR Foundation), a general incorporated foundation in Japan, formally launched the ‘Grow Trees Community’ project in Nasugbu, Batangas last September 27 as the first stop of three provinces for their ‘treescaping’ and reforestation initiative.

The Grow Trees Community project aims to plant and grow trees across the Philippines while helping create livelihood opportunities by working closely with the people’s organizations in the communities. The project also joins hands with Costa del Hamilo, Inc., Manila Southcoast Development, Inc and the local government of Nasugbu.

“The core of our program is to go beyond planting trees. It also addresses the social and economic needs of communities by providing them with the means to engage in agroforestry. With this in mind, we want to build a strong foundation to keep growing communities by fostering collaboration and leadership in caring for the environment” said Cristie S. Angeles, SM Foundation Assistant Vice President for Livelihood.

“Facilitating sustainable development is one of the core activities of FR Foundation and we support this program to further promote environmental stewardship, preservation and the economic development among communities. We are delighted to partner with SM Foundation who has an extensive experience in community development and tree planting programs in the Philippines,” Mr. Yoshio Ishida, Secretary-General of FR Foundation said.

The project is also seen enhancing prospects for eco-tourism and in turn, job creation for the community.

“This endeavor will definitely boost the eco-tourism here in Nasugbu moving forward with the flowering trees creating a picturesque view of the property. This will promote not just Hamilo Coast, but also the local community with no other property hosting this vast array of Palawan Cherry and other flowering trees,” Franklin M. Bolalin, Assistant Vice President for Hamilo Estate Management said.

Hamilo Coast looks after one of the largest mangrove forests in the province of Batangas in partnership with WWF Philippines since 2007. The 24-hectare mangrove belt is covered by lush 50,000 mangrove trees.

Three of Hamilo Coast’s coves, namely Pico de Loro, Etayo and Santelmo, have been declared as Marine Protected Areas by the (Organization) since 2009.

The site serves as a marine sanctuary to an exuberant diversity of marine animals and a resilient locale for migratory and unique species of birds, now totaling 96, which includes the vulnerable Philippine eagle-owl (Bubo philippensis).

The presence of more trees in these areas will act as natural protection against erosion, and absorption of planet-warming greenhouse gases.

Grow Trees Community is in support of the SM Green Movement that aims to improve the quality of life of communities through sustainable solutions to promote a green planet, green living and a green culture.

FR Foundation focuses on promoting research designed to help make the world a better place, spurring technological development, nurturing human resources, and supporting socially vulnerable individuals or groups.

It is part of Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., the leading Japanese retail company that owns well-loved casual wear brand, Uniqlo.

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