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On June 2019, at our sixth annual TreeAthlon, 130 employees of SGS in the Philippines, as well as their friends and family members, planted 1,700 saplings at the La Mesa Watershed Reservation. This reservation supplies water to 12 million people, and its surviving rainforest serves as the lungs of Metro Manila. Illegal deforestation has endangered its unique flora and fauna, leaving the land vulnerable to soil erosion and landslides.

The day of the TreeAthlon, our team met with a representative from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), who briefed us on the correct planting technique for increasing the tree seedlings’ chances of survival. According to DENR, around 90% of the saplings planted in 2018 survived; those that did not were replaced by DENR to ensure that conservation targets were achieved.

The activity started with simple breathing exercises followed by a short walk to the planting site, to allow participants to reconnect to nature. As part of the activity’s safety precautions, the organizers provided each participant with a tree planting kit containing a hand towel, gloves, a raincoat and a mosquito patch.

Some of the unused materials bought in the previous year were also distributed to the participants, who were reminded of the importance of safety and not littering. A nurse was available onsite throughout the event to provide first aid if required.

In 2019, we invested PHP 135,000 in the initiative. This included a charitable donation to DENR for improving the shed that served as a nursery and a place where the saplings could be prepared for planting. In total, SGS has donated PHP 50,000 since its first TreeAthlon, and 8,100 saplings have been planted. This has resulted in the equivalent of an additional 147 tonnes of CO2 being absorbed every year, which is helping to combat climate change.

A 2019 participant said, "What I love most about the tree planting activity is that it allows us to help our mother earth to sustain her beauty for the benefits of the future generation."

SGS employees group photo during treeathlon

SGS employees in the woods