Forests for Life Movement: Restoring Forests through stakeholder engagement and empowerment using native trees

Haribon Foundation
Published: 25 July 2019
Last edited: 25 July 2019
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Forests for Life Movement is an environmental conservation movement that provides solution to the continuous decline of forest cover in the Philippines. It used to be called Rainforestation Organization and Advocates (ROAD) to 2020, brought to life in November 2005 during the National Consultation on Rainforest Restoration. It was relaunched onJuly 14, 2018 to mobilize support from individuals and organizations, sharing opportunities for taking collective action. It envisions to bring back biodiversity using native forest tree species to sustain provision of ecological goods and services. It prioritized Protected Areas, and local stakeholders in these areas were partnered and capacitated to ensure success of the restoration efforts. Lastly, it also lobbied and continued to support the implementation of various government policies that are in line with the country’s commitment to various international conventions for the environment and to the principle of Sustainable Forest Management.


Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Tropical evergreen forest
Access and benefit sharing
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Protected area governance
Sustainable livelihoods
Watershed management
Sustainable development goals
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 11: Protected areas
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Sendai Framework
Target 5: Increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020
(I)NDC Submission


mt. banahaw, Dolores Quezon, Makati, 1229, Philippines
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FFL aims to restore Philippine Rainforests using native trees. Forest degradation is at its lowest, where only 6.84M has. or 22.8% of the Philippines’ total land area is left covered with forest (DENR-FMB 2012). This is behind the minimum 40% or 12M has. (Pulhin, et al. 2006) requirement to support water-related functions, and even more behind the 54% requirement (Sajise, 1996) to provide other services.

Other challenges of the solution are:

  • Weak enforcement of environmental laws and policies in the restoration site
  • Land claim issues at the site after or during the restoration efforts, in spite of the community consultations and other social preparations
  • Sustainability of the site and partners’ efforts after the 3 years provision of financial incentives or upon turn-over of the site, either to NGAs or LGUs
  • Need for a continuous Education and Public Awareness Campaign to ensure lasting protection by the stakeholders
  • Farming practices near the restoration sites are not bio-diversity friendly


The direct beneficiaries of the restoration sites are the Community partners. Largely, the 161 hectares protected areas benefits a total of 567,158 residents from nearby municipalities and provinces. These are in terms of improved overall well-being

How do the building blocks interact?

The building blocks complement each other. These are all vital components of the whole solution. The FFL Movement acts both as the facilitating factor and the solution itself that drove the different sectors of the society to have collective efforts to bring back the Philippine forests for the benefit of all stakeholders. The participative selection of restoration areas within the KBAs allowed for the implementation of the actual reforestation to be operational smoothly because the stakeholders agreed to the strategies and intervention, ensuring a more cooperative environment. The AAS program facilitates the actual implementation of forest restoration activities, which involves direct provision of financial and volunteer support from corporations and individuals- through donations and volunteer works. Lastly, the community approach to maintenance empowered the community partners and allowed them to accept accountability to ensure successful growth of the trees. By securing the livelihood of the local partners, they were more willing to take on their roles


Environmental. Haribon restored 619 has., while 22,862 has. accounted from groups using native trees. Native trees in Mts. Banahaw-San Cristobal PL replaced the wild bananas that once covered the large portion of the mountain. There’s more stable soil protection and micro-climate has allowed 28 bird species to be present in the area.

Economic. Livelihood opportunities were provided to community partners for tree survival. They were engaged for the preparation activities, 3-yr maintenance, and seedling production. Funds were given to encourage farming of high-value cash crops and vegetables. Currently, they receive an average of Php 93,750/ha., produced 983,553 seedlings, & 3,906 fruit bearing trees provided.

Social. Haribon’s Adopt-A-Seedling (AAS) Program, has built a constituency that responded to FFL’s call-to-action. Presently, there are 116 engaged corporate sponsors, 16,536 AAS donations, 13,416 Volunteers, 30 Municipalities, and 14 communities. FFL was recognized as the best environmental project in the Philippines by the Energy Globe on 2017, while corporate partner Honda received the 2018 Platinum award from the Society of Philippine Motoring Journalists.

Governance. FFL supports the implementation of the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan, awareness raising, and passage of policies & laws, like a Forest Resource Bill promoting Sustainable Forest Management


Haribon Foundation

Farm kids join Sungwan Spring clean-up drive


Children, some as young as 5 years old, and grandchildren of the members of the San Cristobal Farmers Association (SCFA) recently carried out a clean-up of the Sungwan Spring, an important community water source located in the foothills of Mt. San Cristobal, San Pablo City.


“It’s disheartening to know that people throw trash in here. We collected a lot of plastic garbage,” said Jamil, 14, one of the group of children aged 5 to 16 years who joined the cleanup.


Non-biodegradable wastes such as plastics, sachets of shampoo, soap, detergent, junk food packs, and tin cans mar the crystal clear waters of Sungwan. The Sungwan Spring is a source of potable and household water, and is a site for recreational activities such as fishing and swimming. It also provides water for livestock and agricultural crops for the community of San Cristobal. The spring is the source of a stream that flows downstream to the famous Bato Springs and to other streams connecting barangays in Quezon province.


“We’ve been doing these clean-up drives for years but improper waste disposal of residents around the area continues to be a problem,” lamented Albeniz Calapine, president of the San Cristobal Farmers Association.


The farmers’ group told environmental organization Haribon Foundation that the current state of the Sungwan Spring should be a wake-up call to local officials. As a response, Haribon aims to conduct an information drive to surrounding communities, together with the SCFA and the barangay officials of San Cristobal.


“Prompt action for the responsible use of the Sungwan springs cannot be overemphasized,” said the Haribon Foundation. “It serves as an important source of drinking water and agricultural irrigation for which communities depend upon on a daily basis.”


15-year-old Abegail has made this summer activity a yearly habit, together with her parents and friends every Earth Day. “I wish to see more participants joining the drive and less people polluting the spring,” she said.

The Sungwan Spring clean-up drive is a yearly activity of the San Cristobal Farmers Association.


Through Haribon’s Forests for Life (previously ROAD to 2020) movement, the San Cristobal Farmers Association takes part in the rehabilitation of more than 42 hectares of depleted forest lands in San Pablo City, Laguna.


Written by: Nova Regalario/Haribon Foundation

Contributed by

Thaddeus Martinez