Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC shifts its environmental advocacy to a higher gear as it launches the second phase of the Philippine Peñablanca Sustainable Reforestation Project (PPSRP).

Started in September 2007, the PPSRP involves the reforestation of the Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape located in the northern province of Cagayan. It is a unique joint undertaking among the Toyota Group, the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR), Peñablanca local government and environmental NGO Conservation International (CI).

Under the project, the Philippines was selected as a recipient of an envisioned US$3 million as a comprehensive support to re-vegetate and reforest approximately 2,500 hectares of degraded, open areas in the Peñablanca protected zone in Cagayan province.

The PPSRP is more than just tree planting, as the project seeks to give root to practices that support the livelihood of the local community, while ensuring the reforestation effort remains a success. 

Phase 1 of the PPRSP, which ran from September 2007 to July 2010, was highly successful, with 1,772 hectares reforested and planted with approximately 1.36 million trees. Peñablanca Project coordinator Ryota Okazaki from TMC's Biotechnology & Afforestation Business Division said, however, that their focus is not just on the reforestation target but also on livelihood for communities.

The local community was heavily involved with the residents maintaining and managing the planted trees. This has resulted in achieving a 90% survival rate of planted trees. They have also started using, on a trial basis, stoves that burn corn husks instead of wood as cooking fuel.

In Phase 2, to encourage residents to continue reforestation activities beyond the conclusion of the project, efforts will focus on heightening the awareness of residents and of cooperatives set up under the project, and on starting the use of the fund to finance the reforestation. Also in Phase 2, volunteers from TMC local subsidiary Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation are scheduled to plant 1,000 trees over the next three years.

In December 2009, TMC announced that the project has obtained a Gold rating under the international Climate, Community and Biodiversity Project Design Standards (CCB Standards). CCB Standards globally promote land-based projects providing climate change mitigation, community benefits, and biodiversity conservation.

The project was certified because not only is CO2 absorbed as a result of the tree planting, but also because the project was designed to have ongoing and beneficial effects on the local residents through a structure that achieves harmony between forest restoration and the livelihood of the local community.