SN Aboitiz Power-Benguet, Inc. remains committed to environmental sustainability through programs that aim to preserve and restore natural resources as well as develop its host communities.
SNAP’s sustainability framework is oriented around collaborative watershed management, with the objective of creating more value-added and meaningful impact to host communities.
Its watershed management program is meant to complement local development plans and the initiatives of watershed management councils, IP organizations, and local government units.
The Integrated Watershed Management Information System project (iWatershed), set up in late 2017, is a repository of geographic information system-based information and real-time data on the status of watersheds covered by SNAP-Benguet’s operations, especially on critical conditions such as water inflow, land use, soil erosion, and disaster vulnerability.
It also works as a decision support system in predicting the spatial impact of investments and business prospects on the watershed level. The project is undergoing enhancements to improve its design and platform capabilities.
For the Ambuklao-Binga watershed in Benguet, which covers 85,000 hectares, SNAP collaborated with the National Power Corporation, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the LGUs of four provinces and 13 municipalities, including the Shakilan ni Ikulos Indigenous Peoples Organization (SNI-IPO) and Tinongdan Indigenous Peoples Organizations (Tinpo) in its host communities of Ambuklao and Binga.
In 2019, SNAP entered into a Joint Project Undertaking with Tinpo, SNI-IPO, and the Ambuclao Coffee Growers Association for the management of environmental activities in the Ambuklao-Binga watersheds.
The agreements cover five-year work and financial plans for each organization totaling P8.7 million for the reforestation of the watershed through the Aboitiz Passion to Agroforestry and Reforestation to Keep (Apark), the Aboitiz Group’s largest environmental sustainability program, maintenance of bamboo and coffee plantations, and implementation of protection activities.
Partnerships, particularly with the LGUs and indigenous peoples organizations, is crucial to the success of these projects.
“SNAP recognizes that the indigenous peoples in our host communities had long been the steward of our environment and natural resources, and it is only natural that they are our partners in conserving and protecting these resources,” said SNAP Group’s Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Mike Hosillos.
“Watershed management is important to us as a hydropower generator, but also to our communities,” he added. “We need to look beyond the short- and medium-term and consider the sustainability and long-term benefits our projects bring to our project partners and host communities.”
So far, the indigenous peoples and peoples organizations have planted 18,000 endemic seedlings such as bamboo, Benguet pine, cypress, and Arabica and Robusta coffee in Bokod and Itogon.
This brings to 154,000 the seedlings SNAP-Benguet planted since 2009 under its sustainability program in support of the Apark Program.
While activities have been limited this year due to the pandemic, the company plans to plant 10,000 seedlings through joint initiatives with host communities such as its annual tree-planting activity.
SNAP has also shifted to virtual events, such as a webinar on environmental awareness attended by thirty college scholars for World Environment Day. – Press release