A new law in the Philippines will require all students to plant at least 10 trees each as a prerequisite for graduation, potentially opening the way for the planting of billions of trees in the Southeast Asian island nation.
The “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act” will require graduating students at the elementary, high school, and college levels to take part in the tradition of planting trees upon graduation while also combating global climate change.
Supporters of the bill, which was mainly authored by Magdalo Party representative Gary Alejano, hope that the new legislation could see as many as 525 billion trees planted in a generation, according to The Independent.
In the bill’s explanatory note, Alejano said:
“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 …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.”
The law also ensures that the trees will be planted in mangroves, forest lands and protected areas, inactive or abandoned mines, ancestral domains belonging to the country’s indigenous peoples, civil and military lands, and urban areas slated for greening under government planners, according to local ABS-CBN News.
The government also plans to make sure that the species selected for planting are appropriate to the location, climate and topography of the area, with a preference for the planting of tree species that are indigenous to the bio-diverse regions of the Philippines.
To ensure that the students actually do conform with the law, the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education will work to implement the bill in schools.
Despite its lush, tropical landscape, the Philippines is also one of the world’s foremost countries in terms of severe deforestation, illegal mining operations, and poor land-use policies favoring big agri-business and foreign mineral extraction corporations.
Total forest cover has dropped from 70 percent of the country to a mere 20 percent during the 20th century, and illegal logging has denuded whole areas of the archipelago, rendering local communities vulnerable to the risks of floods and landslides.
In addition to the carbon absorption that the new law will hopefully entail, legislators hope that future generations will benefit from a deeper understanding of their interaction with nature and the undertaking of new ecological initiatives.
Hopefully, the law will see the Philippines become a much greener place. One can only dream about what the world would look like if more countries followed the example set by this policy, which seeks to transform an increasingly hotter and more polluted world into one that may be more livable for our future generations.