Philippines Passes Bill Requiring Students to Plant 10 Trees Before Graduating

The world would not exist without trees. With deforestation, forest fires, and droughts decimating our planet’s tree life, something needs to be done.

ScienceAlert reports, “Between 1990 and 2005, the Philippines lost 32.3 percent of its forest cover. Illegal logging has historically been a huge issue for the country, but now the Philippines House of Representatives has put forward a new way of dealing with the problem: a bill that requires students to plant 10 trees each before graduating.”

House Bill 8728, or the “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act,” is expected to pass the senate for final approval.

“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,” Gary Alejano, one of the bill’s principal author’s, explained in the bill’s explanatory note, as reported by CNN Philippines. “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.”

Lest kids plant trees randomly, the bill also lays out where trees are to be planted, emphasizing government-owned land from rainforests to oceanside mangroves to city streets.

The trees will be planted in 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. These planted trees must be appropriate to the location, climate and topography of the area, and there will be a preference for the planting of indigenous tree species.

In the Philippines students have to plant 10 trees before they can graduate

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Under the bill, 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.

These agencies will be responsible for nursery establishment, seedling production and site preparation, monitoring and evaluation, and technical support and extension services. They must also provide security, transportation, fire protection amenities, and medical support.

The government bill does not solely aim to reap the benefits of increasing forests, which would capture more carbon. It also hopes to plant a seed with its students, which will germinate into increased environmental awareness for future generations and effective ecological initiatives, according to India Today.

The new bill requires all elementary, high school and college students to plant at least 10 trees before graduating. It is unclear if this means a tertiary graduate would have planted 30 trees, or just 10 throughout their schooling.