The Philippine Senate passed a new law mandating all graduating elementary, high school, and college students to plant at least 10 trees each as a prerequisite for graduation.
Also known as House Bill 8728, or the “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act,” which aims to promote inter-generational responsibility as well as environmental protection.
One of the principal authors of the bill, Rep Gary Alejano said that if this initiative was properly implemented. This could result in at least 175 million new trees planted each year and in the course of one generation, no less than 525 billion can be planted if it’s properly adhered to.
“While we recognise the right of the youth to a balanced and healthy ecology… there is no reason why they cannot be made to contribute in order to ensure that this will be an actual reality.”
Under this new law, the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education will be the implementing bodies, in partnership with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and other government agencies involved.
Rep. Alejano also added that even if only 10% of all the planted trees survive, this would still result in 525 million trees in the course of one generation.
“Even with a survival rate of only 10 percent, 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.”
Based on the “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act,” the trees will only be planted in existing forest lands, mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domains, civil and military reservations, urban areas under the greening plan of the local government units, inactive and abandoned mine sites, and other suitable lands.
Deforestation is a growing problem that our country is facing. According to reports, the Philippines is one of the most severely deforested countries in the tropics and most deforestation has happened in the last 4 decades.
In the 20th century, the estimated total forest cover in our country dropped from 70 to 20 percent, mainly because of the increase in illegal logging activities and unauthorized transport and production of timber.