Natalia Sali, an alumna of the Diploma in Health and Social Care, has won the National Energy Globe Award for her project One Child, One Tree in the Philippines.
The project is raising awareness among the community members concerning the value of trees to the environment so that they can contribute to make their environment cleaner and greener.
Partnerships have been established between schools, governmental and non-governmental organisations, and the community. Every planting or clean-up activity starts with a short information session about topics such as the value of trees, environment protection or how to nurture trees. The project also engages the children in the actual tree planting on carefully selected sites and tree nurturing. Later, volunteers go back to the planting site in order to collect garbage.
More than 2,500 projects aimed at protecting the environment have been submitted by more than 180 countries to the Energy Globe Award, which is the most significant environmental award worldwide. The goal of the Energy Globe Award is the presentation of innovative and sustainable projects to a broad global audience. The award is presented in form of an award ceremony on a regional basis in the founding country Austria, on a national basis in more than 90 participating countries, and partly in large TV galas.
Located in Hagonoy, in the province of Bulacan, Philippines, Sali’s project is engaging young children in planting and watering trees as a way of involving them in environmental activities. Through the tree planting initiative, the project is aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change while raising awareness among community members via seminars and training sessions conducted by young volunteers.
Hagonoy is an urban municipality situated in the Southwest corner of the province of Bulacan. It is bounded by water bodies which constitute 75 per cent of its total land area. With its abundant water resources and the coastal nature of the town, most of the population is dependent on the fishing industry. The reliance of the residents of Hagonoy in fish farming is attributed to the rich mangrove forest that lines its coast. However, the depletion of mangroves decreases the habitat for feeding and breeding grounds of many fishes, resulting in the decline of catch which in turn affects the livelihood of fisherfolks.
Sali said about the award: “I feel proud and humbled to have received the award. Proud because it is a reminder that we have come a long way since my family started the programme in 2017. We have managed to inculcate in people the value of environment protection through planting trees and reducing plastic waste. Our efforts also resulted in more volunteers being aware that they too can make a difference. We were able to educate the community about climate change and how our mangrove forest would help mitigate its impact on social and economic aspects of people’s lives.
“Environmental issues can only be tackled in partnership with the community and the local government. Our award is a reminder that we cannot do things on our own, that’s why it is also a humbling experience for me and my family. We are a tiny group and our strength comes from the strength of the people who believe in us - from our local government leaders, sponsors, partners in the community and private sector, and the numerous volunteers from all walks of life who join and support our cause.
“We have yet to fulfil our goal of a full reforestation of the several hectares of mangrove forest and it will take years to achieve it. However, One Child, One Tree has indeed planted the seed from which others would get the inspiration. We thank the Energy Globe Award for believing in us. We dedicate the award to all our volunteers and partners.”
Sali is also an ambassador for Fostering Education & Environment for Development, Inc (FEED), who have been very supportive of the project.