Last 2017, Shell and ERDB signed a memorandum of agreement for the development of a clonal nursery and bamboo propagation facility. Now, a year after sealing the partnership between the two organizations, the 1,000sqm-structure housed at the Shell Pililla Training Center in Rizal has officially started operations following its inauguration last July 26, 2018.

Leading the inauguration and ceremonial ribbon cutting are Shell companies in the Philippines Country Chairman Cesar Romero, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) Executive Director Edgar Veron Cruz, and former ERDB Director Celso Diaz.

Shell and ERDB recognize that a key element in every massive forest reforestation undertaking and preservation of indigenous species is the seedlings that will be planted and grown.

The clonal nursery and bamboo propagation facility have the capacity to produce up to 30,000 quality seedlings of endemic and indigenous species in one cycle – around 9 to 12 months – which is a big leap from the numbers yielded by existing infrastructures in a short period of time. This can help broaden the inventory of endemic and indigenous species which are rapidly becoming scarce in the country.

The development of this facility supports the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP), under Executive Order No. 193 series of 2015, which entails the coverage expansion and extended implementation of the nationwide forest development program until 2028. Shell can contribute to the production of quality forest seedlings and preservation of indigenous species.

Shell companies in the Philippines Country Chairman Cesar Romero shared how this project aligns with the company’s overall agenda. “We are proud to be a partner in this program. As many of you know, we are very keen on ensuring that our planet is developed in a very sustainable way. Therefore, environmental conservation and climate change actions are high on our agenda. This program supports that overall agenda, so we see very good alignment between what Shell wants to happen and actually what our country and government want to happen.”

This project reinforces the importance of public-private collaboration in helping the country achieve its goals. ERDB provided the design of the nursery and it will also share its expertise and technical know-how to the Shell team for the successful propagation of quality seedlings.

Former ERDB Director Celso Diaz had this to say about the partnership and significance of the newly inaugurated nursery: “We have a lot of partners in the country but it is very rare for us to have a partner organization like Shell. So, why did we do this? Because our major species for reforestation are dwindling. It’s difficult to source seedlings and planting materials. With the clonal nursery, Shell can produce cloned planting materials on a mass scale and it can be made available any time of the year. This will surely address the concern on the lack of readily available planting materials, since the facility can produce almost 30,000 quality planting materials every cycle.”

The bamboo propagation facility is another notable feature of the project. It targets to grow select Philippine bamboo species that can be used for bamboo plantation projects and future livelihood endeavors. “This is an initial move and what excites me also is the inclusion of bamboo propagation for two things – one, bamboo can absorb 3-4x carbon dioxide compared to other species. And also, bamboo provides plenty of livelihood opportunities,” shared PSFI Executive Director Edgar Veron Cruz.

During the inauguration, Romero also shared how Shell has always been a champion for the environment through its roster of programs that complements the government’s efforts. He highlighted the company’s environment and biodiversity programs, including conservation of the Tubbataha Reefs; coastal cleanups; mangrove tree planting activities; community waste management programs around its distribution terminals nationwide; and, tree planting activities of endemic and indigenous species in Mt. Banahaw, Quezon as part of its Carbon Sink Management Program.

The inauguration of the clonal nursery and bamboo propagation facility signifies Shell’s commitment in partnering with the government to create a greener and more sustainable future for the Philippines.