The Forest Foundation Philippines launched last Wednesday (March 21) at Commune Cafe + Bar Makati the Best Friends of the Forest Movement (BFF Movement) and its initial roster of BFFs.

Led by Atty. Jose Canivel, Forest Foundation Philippines’ Executive Director, the BFF Movement is made up of groups and individuals representing the different passion points of the campaign – Social Entrepreneurship, Ecotourism, Conservation and Arts & Culture.

Atty. Jose Canivel

Inspire. Take Action. Make a Difference.

In a nutshell, Best Friends of the Forest Movement was created to help form a community of young and action-oriented environmentalists, travelers, social entrepreneurs and artists who aim to inspire people to be advocates of forest conservation and protection.

The country is facing a rapid decline of forest cover – from 27 million hectares down to already as little as 7 million hectares. In fact, most of the country’s old growth forests are in danger of deforestation. Forests in Palawan, Sierra Madre, Samar and Leyte, and Mindanao are threatened by agricultural conversion and human settlements.

Along with the combined threats of logging activities, poor law enforcement, and mining projects in biodiversity-rich areas such as Palawan, the country is losing approximately 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year, according to the data provided by the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“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,” – Atty. Jose Canivel.

It is for this reason that the Forest Foundation Philippines has issued a call to action for students, conservationists, environmentalists, and nature lovers alike as it launches its youth-advocacy campaign, the Best Friends of the Forest Movement (BFF Movement).

Meet The BFFs

During the launch, Forest Foundation Philippines introduced the initial members of the movement. Let’s get to know the first batch of BFFs and what they bring in the table.

JEN HORN – Social Entrepreneurship

Jen is a woman in pursuit of meaningful endeavors. She’s an entrepreneur, writer, designer, marketing professional and above all, the chief mind behind MUNI. A grassroots movement in 2012 that aims to create a healthy, sustainable, waste-free world by building a community of cause-driven creatives through meaningful events and experiences that change how we shop, eat, travel and do business.

NICCOLO JOSE – Arts & Culture

Niccolo is an artist of a different kind. He’s a woodworker and a staunch advocate for upcycling and sustainability, opting only to use reclaimed old wood for all his works. Because of this, all his artworks are a statement in itself, serving to inspire his fellow BFFs and many others into action.

GIDEON LASCO – Conservation

Gideon is many things to many people. He’s a physician, medical anthropologist, lecturer, writer and environmental advocate. During his free time, he pursues his hobby of mountain climbing and maintains pinoymountaineer.com – as a true BFF at heart, he has used his many talents to raise awareness, organize projects and participate in conservation activities.

CARLO CUNANAN – Conservation

Sharing the same passion with Gideon is another conservationist and mountaineer, Carlo Cunanan also shared his experiences and motivation for becoming a BFF during the launch.

U.P. MOUNTAINEERS – Ecotourism

The U.P. Mountaineers, represented by Siegfried Tuberon and April Sarah Peoro, is a student organization from the University of the Philippines (UP). As true BFFs, their passion for travel and adventure is only equalled by their advocacies. The U.P. Mountaineers promote responsible mountaineering as a healthy physical activity and as a means to spread environmental awareness, particularly forest conservation and protection.

Join the Movement

The BFF Movement is not an exclusive membership club but a means to organize and inspire millennials to be forest advocates.

“Our mission is to engage and empower the next generation to take up the mantle of forest conservation and protection. All you need is one thing to be a BFF —you have to have the passion to take action and champion our forests,” – Atty. Jose Canivel

Along with activities such as nature trails, talks, workshops and fostering partnerships with other organizations, the BFF Movement aims to engage the youth and take them right into the heart of the action to help raise awareness and inspire their fellow millennials to champion the conservation and protection of our forests.

“We want our BFFs to openly share their passion, inspire, and bring awareness to pressing issues. This is all about channeling the advocacies for forest conservation and protection by engaging the passions of the youth. We hope to shape the next generation to advocate for the conservation and protection of the forests,” –  Atty. Jose Canivel

There are a lot of ways to help conserve and protect the forests. Here are some of the things that you can do to become a true blue BFF (Best Friend of the Forest):

  • Grow Forests. You can participate in tree-growing activities and report incidents of illegal logging and poaching to the proper authorities.
  • Grow Livelihoods. It is important to strike a balance between development and conservation. Using wood meaningfully and responsibly from sustainable sources enables us to meet our current needs, while implementing options to protect our forests for the future generations to meet their own needs. This also enables the continuity of economic opportunities for the forest-dependent communities.
  • Grow Partnerships. We can’t do it all. It’s important to work with other people and groups in this endeavor. You can support other efforts or even organize your own activities to help conserve and protect our forests.
  • Grow Advocates. By simply living the advocacy and sharing your passion for the forests can go along way—you can already help spread awareness and bring new advocates into the fold.

Take action now with the BFF Movement! For more information, log on to http://www.forestfoundation.ph/be-a-bff/.

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Writer, Wanderer, Child of God


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