#16 – Anne-Marie Bakker – Planting Trees for Peace & Security

Did you catch the last episode of the Doing Good Podcast? I interviewed Christine Amour-Levar, co-founder of Women On A Mission about travel, adventure and using sport to end violence against women. If you didn’t hear it, I highly recommend it, but I may be a bit bias. Anyway, incase you didn’t know, Christine is of French, Swiss and Filipino descent. So while I was in the Philippines last year, I of course reached out to her to let her know I was there and to see if she knew any interesting people that I should connect with while travelling around.

Now interesting is an understatement when thinking of a word to describe who she introduced me to.

This week on the podcast, I’m chatting to the one and only Anne-Marie Bakker. Power-woman. Environmental advocate. Don’t mess with her, passionate, problem-solver, connector. Tree-planter. And all round, bad-ass. She is a solid driving force in the fight for environmental conservation in the Philippines - one of the last remaining tropical rainforest areas.

Some estimates state that forest cover in the Philippines has dropped from 70% down to 20% over the course of the 20th Century (check this report). Forests play a critical role in mitigating climate change because they act as a carbon sink—soaking up carbon dioxide that would otherwise be free in the atmosphere and contribute to ongoing changes in climate patterns. Deforestation undermines this important carbon sink function.

According to WWF, some 46-58 thousand square miles of forest are lost each year—equivalent to 48 football fields every minute, and it is estimated that 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions are the result of deforestation. So what are the causes of deforestation? Well, illegal logging, fires used to clear land for agriculture, and fuel-wood harvesting.

The impacts are overwhelming. But in this episode we’re going to hear from an environmental warrior extraordinaire. Anne-Marie is truly at the forefront of the effort to restore the lungs of the world.

I remember one night, there was a group of us and we were all chatting. It was late at night and over a few beers and Anne-Marie was telling a story about a time that she was in walking by herself down a dirt road in one of the remote village-islands and how she scared away a group of rowdy guys with a large knife that she was carrying for scenarios like that. If you’re looking for stories of adventure, look no further than Anne-Marie. She is humble, down to earth, and a great storyteller. As the VP Operations & Partnerships at Fostering Education & Environment for Development (FEED) in The Philippines, Anne-Marie chats about how she does it all, her family history of and personal motivation for conservation, as well as some of the projects that she runs; one in particular that I find so fascinating, is the planting for peace program - engaging the people of Mindanao in environmental conservation through tree planting projects with the Philippines Defence Force, as a way of promoting peace in that region. I’m not going to give any more away – I hope you enjoy the show!


Favorite quote from episode:

“It should be a given that we give back to the community somehow.”  [24:35]



People/ items mentioned in this episode:

-       Fostering Education & Environment for Development (FEED)

-       COP 21 - Paris

-       Pope Francis says destroying the environment is a sin

-       Living Legacy

-       Ridge to Reef (R2R) – Watershed Rehabilitation

-       Students & Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE)

-       Philippine Environmental Legislation

-       FEED Ambassadors


Get in contact with Anne-Marie by email or through the FEED Facebook page, Instagram or website.


Show notes

-       “We realized it was the right time to engage the public at large to generate awareness about the need to reforest 70% of our lost forest cover in the Philippines” [08:15]

-       Anne-Marie gives us a bit of background about the environmental situation in the Philippines [17:30]

-       How does FEED measure social impact? [21:00]

-       Anne-Marie talks about the Planting for Peace Program, working with the Philippines Armed Forces on a tree-planting program to promote peace in the highly unstable region of Mindanao in the Philippines [29:00]

-       What are some of the challenges that Anne-Marie faces in doing this kind of work, especially in the Philippines? [34:50]

-       What is FEED working on for the future? [50:00]

-       Three Things [01:01:30]


What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Let me know in the comments!


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