Nickel industry vows for a sustainable development, planted 6.3 million trees

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Mining company employees monitoring their planted bamboo seedlings in line with PNIA’s progressive rehabilitation programs
Photo from Philippine Nickel Industry Association, Inc.

By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios

True to its commitment to intensify progressive rehabilitation and other environmental sustainability efforts, the Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) through its 8-member companies have boosted their Environment Protection and Enhancement Program (EPEP) and reported a total of 6.3 million trees planted over 3,167 hectares in their respective mining areas.

With limited movement and slow down in their operations during the community quarantine period, the PNIA member companies have planted an additional 809,656 more trees in the first two quarters of 2020 alone, covering 322 hectares of land or equivalent of approximately 600 football fields, which brings their total number of planted trees to over 6 million to date.

The said effort to increase tree planting effort from the association has resulted in a 13.9% growth in the total number of trees planted as of the second quarter of 2020. Last year, the group also revealed that they have already planted 5.3 million trees.

The aerial view of the trees planted in Palawan in line with PNIA’s progressive rehabilitation programs. Photo from the Philippine Nickel Industry Association, Inc.

During the virtual media briefing held this morning, PNIA Executive Director Charmaine Olea-Capili said, “PNIA members have consistently delivered beyond compliance to demonstrate our commitment to environmental protection and rehabilitation. All the members have invested over PHP 203M on continued EPEP activities and specifically PHP 59.7M on progressive rehabilitation this year despite the pandemic.”

Capili also noted that the implementation of the progressive rehabilitation program is based on research and follows rigorous scientific methods.

“PNIA members have the full-time environment and technical experts who study the ecosystem and soil of each area that will be rehabilitated to identify which tree species will suit the environment and benefit the community. Member companies have planted over 70 different tree species including bamboo in their respective mining sites,” she added.

As of August 2020, the group reported over 23,100 bamboo seedlings have been planted across 43 hectares.  Aside from rehabilitating the environment, bamboo-planting can also provide livelihood opportunities for the local communities by selling various bamboo-made products.

Apart from ramped up tree planting activities for the year, the nickel industry members have also conducted numerous environmental programs for the benefit of their host communities, including 17 coastal cleanups in Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, and Palawan, and the planting of almost 95,000 mangrove seedlings as of August of this year.

The on-going reforestation is just part of the continuous efforts of the industry to help the local communities during the pandemic.  As of July this year, the nickel group members have recently allotted almost PHP 30M in pandemic relief assistance under their Social Development Management Programs (SDMP) in the form of personal protective equipment (PPEs), food security packs, medicines and test kits, disinfection tents, organized transportation, and intensive information dissemination campaign in their host communities to ensure that localities including the indigenous communities are taken cared of during the pandemic.

“We ensure that no one gets left behind especially in these trying times. In partnership with the local government, we continuously assist in our various social development, crisis response, and environmental protection programs. Although production slowed down this year, PNIA members have ramped up their social development and environment programs to help the community throughout the pandemic and deliver our commitments to our stakeholders,” Capili underscored.

For his part, Atty. Dante Bravo, Presiden of Philippine Nickel Industry Association he pointed out that their group and members have always been passionate about planning and executing their various environmental programs under its Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programs or EPEP.

“In our perspective, implementing our EPEPs is one of our ways to show the community how we value their land, waters, and environment. We make it a point to improve what is already in the area and contribute to the beauty, safety, and preservation of the community, Atty. Bravo explained.

“The members of the Philippine Nickel Industry Association have invested over PHP 202 million into their various EPEP from the start of the year to August 2020. These are not final amounts as we have on-going EPEP activities until the end of the year,” he concluded.

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