Best Friends of the Forest: Caring for the Forest the Millennial Way
by Anne Marielle Eugenio, April 12, 2019 2:30pm
Art by Ahl Mirambel
The Philippines is one of the mega biodiverse countries, meaning it has a high total number of plant and animal species plus a significant percentage of native ones—all thanks to our forests. Unfortunately, our forest areas are continuously decreasing. From 2003 to 2010, the country lost about 4.6 percent of our forest to deforestation.
As residents of this planet, it’s our responsibility to take care of our resources. A year ago, a non-profit organization built a community of young people dedicated to caring for our forests’ welfare called the "Best Friends of the Forest" (BFF) Movement.
The BFF that saves a (forest’s) life
Forest Foundation Philippines, an institution providing grants to other organizations empowering people to protect the forests, saw the need to protect our country from deforestation since we are losing around 47,000 hectares a year. Atty. Jose Canivel, executive director of the Forest Foundation Philippines, said our forest might not be around for the next generation to see if we don’t take action. As a response to the alarming decrease of our forest areas, the foundation launched last March 2018 its youth-oriented advocacy named "Best Friends of the Forest" or BFF Movement—a group of young and action-oriented people with a heart to save the forest.
BFF Movement’s focus is to empower and engage the next generation to help in the rehabilitation of our forests. The organization taps into their “passion points,” which include Ecotourism, Arts & Culture, Social Entrepreneurship, and Environmental Conservation.
The activities BFF holds are beyond tree-planting activities and workshops. Just last year, the campaign held its first ever BFF Talks, which tackled how social enterprises and art can be used to protect our forests.
Another interesting event is their BFF Trail Event that took a group of young environmentalists, travel enthusiasts, artists, and nature-lovers on a hike through the La Mesa Eco Park. Volunteers from UP Mountaineers guided the group into a journey of appreciating the Philippine forests, learning the conservation process and the importance of different species in our biodiversity.
BFF Movement innovates other strategies to engage more people in forest conservation. On March 21, they came down with Treevia Night at Sunshine Place in Makati, a quiz night on anything about trees. It tested the guests’ wits and knowledge—from general information, pop culture, and even music. And while it only appeared as a regular trivia night, it also became a way to educate people about trees and forest protection.
Growing trees and advocates
Apart from the UP Mountaineers, certified BFFs are young environmentalists, artist, and professionals fields. They use their passions as platforms for forest conservation and protection. As they share BFF Movement’s advocacy, they try to capture the attention of the young people to engage in activities which would make the world a better place to live in.
Forest protection does not stop with a few forest conservation enthusiasts. BFF Movements continues to reach out and engage with as many people as they can—whether they are young or young-at-heart. The members can’t move forward without your help. Taking part in tree-planting projects, using wood meaningfully and responsibly, supporting other efforts for tree conservation, or sharing your passion and spreading awareness can go a long way.
The BFF Movement is an inclusive organization and not an exclusive club. Everybody who has the heart to save the forest can join. The movement’s main goal is to inspire and involve millennials and others for this environmental advocacy. Check out their website to learn how to join.
If we don’t protect and conserve our forests, we will have nothing left for the next generation. Let’s start NOW.