The folks behind mobile wallet and payment enabler GCash in the Philippines just came up with a bright green idea called ‘GCash Forest‘ or ‘GForest‘ for short!
Quite similar to taking care of a ‘virtual pet‘ called Tamagochi that became a craze in the 90s, GForest in turn, encourages subscribers to take care of a ‘virtual tree‘ through a series of ‘green’ tasks which makes the tree grow.
And to elevate the concept further, GCash is committing to turn your virtual trees into actual trees to be planted at the Ipo Watershed for a better and sustainable water-supply in the metro!
By the end of 365 days, GCash Forest aims to plant at least 365,000 trees!
365,000 Trees in 365 Days
According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Forest Management Bureau (FMB), the Philippines is losing 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year. The FMB also reported the need to rehabilitate 1.2 million hectares of forest lands by 2022 to prevent landslides, ensure water availability, and preserve biodiversity..
GCash considers GCash Forest as a last mile initiative that fully recognizes the emergence of an all-digital Filipino lifestyle.
“GCash Forest is about making it easier, more convenient, and even rewarding for everyone to take care of our environment for the benefit of future generations,” said Mynt CEO Anthony Thomas. “GCash is no longer just providing an excellent platform for accessible financial products and services but also enabling Filipinos to be more active in responding to real-life issues, such as climate change mitigation through reforestation.”
To implement its tree-planting initiatives, GCash Forest partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN).
The DENR will provide land resources in Ipo Watershed, an essential component of the Angat–Umiray–Ipo watersheds system supplying 98% of Metro Manila’s water. WWF will be providing trees and manpower while BIOFIN will provide expertise on monitoring.
How to Plant Virtual Trees
To plant trees through GCash Forest, GCash users need to collect “green energy” by frequently using the app like a game.
Users who get enough green energy can choose which species of trees they want to plant in a selected area at the Ipo watershed. Once the trees are physically planted, users get to receive a certificate of ownership with a serial number, fun facts and updates on the growth of their trees on their GCash apps.
“Many Filipinos, especially the younger ones, care about the environment but a lot of them don’t know how they can actively take part in environmental protection. This is a barrier that GCash Forest addresses because they only need to use their smartphones—an already integral part of their daily lives—to make a difference,” concluded Thomas.
The new feature is inspired by Alipay Ant Forest, a product operates by Ant Financial, an Alibaba affiliate and the parent company of the world’s leading payments and lifestyle platform, Alipay. Trough the mobile platform, more than 500 million users have planted 100 million real trees and advanced a shared vision of sustainable and inclusive development.
“The GCash Forest shows digital technology holds a huge power to mobilize people in support of sustainable development and the fight against climate change. And this power goes beyond border and is at our fingertips through our mobile devices,” said Yan Meng, Ant Financial’s Global Head of International Partnerships.
Thomas added that recent findings on the Philippines’ vulnerability to climate-related hazards call for greater collective action. Results of the Global Peace Index 2019 identified the Philippines as the most susceptible country to the adverse effects of climate change. By leveraging the GCash platform and scale, GCash Forest aims to rally a coalition of individuals, non-government organizations, and international organizations to meet its 2020 targets.