A new law in the Philippines has been introduced which requires all high school and college students to plant at least 10 trees before they can graduate.
Planting trees before graduation is an old tradition in the country, but now the government has formalised the law in hopes to not only keep the tradition alive but also combat global climate change.
According to those introducing the law, the new legislation could result in 525 billion trees planted in a single generation if the students adhere to it.
The principal author of the new legislation, the Magdalo Party’s representative Gary 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 trees will be planted in mangroves, existing forests and some protected areas, as well as military ranges, abandoned mining sites and selected urban areas, as CNN Philippines reports.
One of the requirements will be the planted trees must be suitable to the location, as well as the climate and topography of the area. Indigenous species of tree will get preference.
A number of government agencies, such as the department of education and department of environment and natural resources, will be responsible for site preparation and seedling preparation, monitoring and evaluation, technical support and other services.
As well as the immediate positive impact the trees will have, such as absorbing carbon dioxide and combatting deforestation, the government hopes the new initiative will help future generations understand environmental and ecological issues in the future.
The Philippines is one of the world’s most heavily deforested countries. During the 20th century, the country’s total forest cover dropped from 70 per cent to just 20 per cent. Illegal logging is still a problem in the country, with the lack of trees increasing the risk of floods and landslides, according to the Independent.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.