The Philippines, a tropical island nation in the Pacific, will now require by law all graduating students from elementary school to college plant 10 trees each before they can graduate.
The bill, called the “Graduation Legacy For the Environment Act,” was approved in the House and is now sent to the Philippines Senate for action. Proponents of the law see this as an opportunity for the Filipino youth to help tackle climate change and build a greener environment for their generation.
“To this end, the educational system shall be a locus for propagating ethical and sustainable use of natural resources among the young to ensure the cultivation of a socially-responsible and conscious citizenry,” The House bill stated, which was authored by representative Gary Alejano.
Alejano estimates that over the course of one generation the bill will be responsible for 525 billion trees planted. This comes from over 12 million students graduating from elementary school each year, 5 million from high school and 500,000 from college, equaling 175 million new trees planted each year.
The law states that trees should be located in:
- Mangroves and protected areas
- Ancestral domains
- Civil and military reservations
- Urban areas
- Inactive and abandoned mine sites
- other suitable lands
The focus will be on planting indigenous species that match the area’s climate and topography. A number of internal agencies within the Philippines government will assist in establishing nurseries, seedling production, site identification, monitoring and evaluating and technical help.
The Philippines consists of 7,641 islands in Southeast Asia. Across those islands, deforestation has been a primary environmental issue. Widespread development and agriculture have led to a significant drop in forested areas across the Philippines. Through the 20th century, forested area in the Philippines decreased from 70 percent to 20 percent. It is estimated that 24.2 million acres of forests were cut down from 1934 to 1988, primarily from logging.
The implementation of this new law could trigger a fulcrum whereby the Philippines switches from net loss to net gain of trees. A simple and powerful message to the Filipino youth with the potential for long term positive impact.