Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) of Japan, together with local company Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation, kicked-off a six-year program involving the reforestation of forests of the Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape (PPLS) located in the Municipality of Peñablanca in the northern province of Cagayan.

The reforestation project is a joint undertaking of the Toyota Group together with the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR), the Peñablanca local government, the local communities, and Conservation International (CI), a Washington-based non-profit organization that seeks to protect Earth's biodiversity "hotspots," high-biodiversity wilderness areas as well as important marine regions around the globe.

The parties formalized the start of this environmental endeavor with a signing ceremony this morning at Malacañang Palace as witnessed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Under the program, the parties will re-vegetate and reforest approximately 1,772 hectares of degraded, open areas in the Peñablanca protected zone and provide alternative livelihood through agro-forestry on 560 hectares for local communities in the project site. The program will promote stakeholders' active participation in long-term forest maintenance and protection through conservation awareness building.

TMC has a vision to extend the project for another three years as a second phase. In total, the combined two phases of the project aims to restore 2,500 hectares for reforestation, covering a period of six years.

The Peñablanca Reforestation Project is part of Toyota's continuing efforts at improving the environment worldwide after Toyota's successful reforestation of over 2,500 hectares of land in China's Hebei Province. Toyota will provide reforestation expertise and tree-planting techniques developed from these activities in China.

In the Philippines, Toyota hopes to create a system which combines both a means of supporting livelihood of local communities and reforestation. Specifically, Toyota and its partners will establish a forest for the harvesting of fuel wood and encourage residents to cultivate alternative cash crops, such as mango and cocoa, to combat logging for fuel wood and slash-and-burn agricultural methods which are the causes of deforestation in the area.

"We at Toyota are proud to be taking part in this project with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, with the municipality of Penablanca, and with Conservation International," said TMC Senior Managing Director Akira Okabe.

"Here in the Philippines, social contribution is a core emphasis at Toyota Motor Philippines and at Toyota Autoparts Philippines. We at Toyota in Japan are delighted to have this opportunity to participate directly in a social contribution project in this nation," he added.

TMC will grant the amount of One Hundred Seventy Million Yen to support the first phase of the project. TMC shall donate a total of Three Hundred Fifty Million Yen, equivalent to Three Million US Dollars ($3.0 Million), to fund the whole project and will participate in the project planning, monitoring, and assessment. Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Philippines will donate a Toyota Hilux pick-up truck to the project.