Caring for the forests with Ayala Land

When was the last time you visited a forest? Like looking up at the stars on a quiet night, strolling in a forest brings back our fading connection to the natural world. It helps us appreciate nature and reminds us of its effects on our health and well-being.

Perhaps being a plantito or plantita can help us go back to our roots, and hopefully, one of our reflections during the quarantine was about protecting the forests before it’s too late. After all, COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease and caused by the wildlife’s habitat loss.

There are many ways to start protecting the forests. You can start in your own backyard by preserving or planting more trees if you have the space.  Aside from lowering the temperature in your area during this hot season and providing well-needed oxygen, these trees can absorb toxic chemicals, pollutants, even odors around your property. And when thinking of buying a property, do you still consider having a space to nurture plants and trees? Poet Joyce Kilmer might agree that there’s nothing lovelier than a tree calming a living space.

Volunteers plant trees at the ecotrail of Lio Tourism Estate.

Ayala Land has dedicated 586 hectares of its land bank as forests and is promoting their care to counteract the effects of climate change. The company’s forests are located in Alaminos and Nuvali in Laguna; Lio, Palawan; Sicogon Island, Iloilo; Kan-irag, Cebu; and Bago Gallera, Davao.

Four years ago, the company bolstered its sustainability goals by embarking on a significant carbon emissions reduction and offsetting program. The giant leap toward the company’s aim to be carbon neutral by 2022 entailed a two-pronged approach. First, the company focused on gradually shifting to the use of renewable energy in its commercial buildings and second, nurture its dedicated carbon forests. 

Even during the pandemic, Ayala Land did not slow down its carbon neutrality drive and forest initiatives. Just last year, it reported 91 percent emissions reduction and is optimistic that it will reach its goal. Across 24 hectares of its carbon forests, in areas which were previously barren, the company planted 25,000 trees in 2020, bringing the total to more than 100,000 trees planted across 87 hectares since 2018.

Executive director of Ayala Land’s NGO partner, Soil & Water Conservation Foundation, provides a briefi ng on native vs exotic tree species to employee volunteers in Cebu.

The company continues to work on the forest through partner organizations, Center for Conservation Innovations  Inc. (CCI), Soil and Water Conservation, Philippine Eagle Foundation, and Pusod Inc. The latter consists of men and women on the ground taking care of the forests and tree nurseries. If you wish to take part in protecting the forest without physically visiting the sites, you could use GCash to donate to NGOs like Pusod Inc.

The company is also introducing Carbon Forest Voluntours, an approach to get people to volunteer and enjoy the carbon forests at the same time.

It departs from the pre-pandemic volunteer events which involved sending hundreds of volunteers to one site. Instead, it called for smaller groups of five to 10 volunteers to work in the forests on different days.

 It also adheres to Ayala Land’s approach of Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) wherein work is assigned appropriate to the season of the year, like tree-planting only during rainy season; weeding and removing vines during dry season; wilding (baby trees) rescue after seedfall; and nursery work.

To educate people about ANR, the company, with its NGO partners, organized volunteer events for employees, students and other groups, with more than 6,000 volunteers participating since 2018. During the pandemic the company organized carbon forest webinars for employees working from home.

“Being in the forest, surrounded by trees can calm the mind and promote overall wellness,” said Anna Maria Gonzales, Ayala Land Sustainability Manager. “The added benefit of learning something new and caring for the environment, makes this all the more meaningful.”

Proof of Ayala Land’s commitment are the sustainability awards and recognitions it received for 2020 alone: A-Leadership Rating on Climate Change from Carbon Disclosure Project, Member of the SAM Sustainability Yearbook 2021 (S&P Global), Member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (S&P Global), 3G ESG Championship Award – Philippines (Cambridge IFA), 2020 Excellence in Ecology and Economy Awards – Special Citation (Philippine Chamber of Commerce Inc.) and Silver Anvil Awards (Public Relations Society of the Philippines).

In real estate, the new normal further underscores the need to develop master plans of mixed-use estates incorporating key principles of sustainability to create green and environmentally nurturing communities. “It would be great if more communities act and manage their carbon footprint. We all have to do our part in responding to the climate crisis,” Gonzales concludes.

For more information, visit and follow @officialayalaland on Facebook. Learn more about Carbon Forest Voluntours at