Students in the Philippines will now have to plant 10 trees, in addition to passing their courses, paying any outstanding lunch debt and turning in all their textbooks, before being allowed to graduate. According to a new bill that was passed on May 15 called the "Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act," it requires all graduating elementary, high school, and college students to plant a minimum of 10 trees before they are eligible to officially graduate.
The Philippines has experienced almost 33% loss of its forest cover between 1990 and 2005, Science Alert writes. Much of this loss was due to factors like illegal logging in the country but with this new law, the country will see a huge increase in the number of trees planted.
"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," Rep. Gary Alejano, one of the main authors of the bill, explained. "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."
The bill will dictate where the trees should be planted as well as specifying that they must be trees that will thrive given the location and climate of where they are planted. "The trees shall be planted in forestlands, 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," a press release stated. "The planted species of trees should be appropriate to the location, climate, and topography of the area with preference for the planting of indigenous species."
“While we recognize 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,” Alejano added.
The Department of Education and the Commission of Higher Education will work together with government departments concerned with the environment, natural resources and agriculture, among others, to implement this new law. Not only will they provide support and services but also the seedlings and site preparation needed to make this happen.
The bill now heads to the Senate.