The Philippines' House Of Representatives has approved a groundbreaking bill to tackle the dramatic deforestation that has taken place in the country over the last four decades. Now, students graduating from elementary school, high school, or college will have to plant at least 10 trees before graduating.
The "Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act", or House Bill 8728, was authored by MAGDALO Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano and Cavite 2nd District Representative Strike Revilla. As reported by CNN Philippines, the bill was passed after its third and final reading.
“With over 12 million students graduating from elementary and nearly 5 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,” Rep. Alejano said in a statement. “In the course of one generation, no less than 525 billion [Editor's note: we believe that this is supposed to be 5.25 billion] can be planted under this initiative. 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 initiative will happen thanks to a collaboration between the Departments of Education, Agriculture, and Environmental and Natural Resources, and the National Commission of Indigenous People.
The agencies will be in charge of preparing nurseries, producing seedlings, and preparing the sites. Trees will be planted wherever possible, from forestland and protected areas to cities, civil and military reservations, and even inactive and abandoned mine sites. Indigenous trees will be planted preferentially, and the new saplings will be suited to the location, climate, and topography of the areas they are planted in.
Private interests and lack of government supervision have led to a huge loss of natural forests. In 1900, 21 million hectares (29 million acres) of the country (70 percent) was covered in forest. By 1999, that number had plummeted to 5 million hectares (12 million acres) and has continued to decrease.
The initiative could prove key to triggering the slow reconstruction of the country's forests.
[H/T: CNN Philippines]