A bill passed by the House of Representatives will require all Filipino students to plant at least 10 trees before they are allowed to graduate.
House Bill 8728, or the “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act” formalises a long-standing tradition of planting trees upon graduation, and is also aimed at reversing deforestation in the Philippines.
Backers of the law believe it could result in up to 525 billion trees being planted within a generation.
“With over 12 million students graduating from elementary and nearly five million students graduating from high school and almost 500,000 graduating from college each year, this initiative, if properly implemented, will ensure that at least 175 million new trees would be planted each year. In the course of one generation, no less than 525 billion can be planted under this initiative,” Congressman Gary Alejano wrote in the bill’s explanatory note.
“Even with a survival rate of only 10 per cent, this would mean an additional 525 million trees would be available for the youth to enjoy, when they assume the mantle of leadership in the future.”
It is envisaged that the trees would be planted in mangroves, existing forests, certain protected areas, military ranges, abandoned mining sites and selected urban areas.
The government said the species selected for planting must be appropriate to each location, climate and topography of the area and there will also be a preference for indigenous species.
In addition to the immediate carbon-absorbing impact of the trees, it is hoped the legislation will help bring environmental understanding to future generations and lead to further ecological initiatives.
The country’s Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education will be tasked with implementing the bill.
The Philippines is one of the world’s most severely deforested countries with total forest cover dropping from 70 per cent to just 20 per cent over the last century.
This lack of forest cover has made many parts of the country prone to disastrous floods and landslides.
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