It’s believed that at least 3.5 billion trees are cut down every year primarily for industrial agriculture to produce everything from paper to palm oil—not to mention for the logging and livestock industries.
Yet, students across the globe are becoming more conscious about the environment and are thinking of ways to sustain it for future generations. In the Philippines, now recent graduates have more motivation to clean up their world; it’s become a legal requirement.
A report by CNN Philippines explained that Magdalo Party representative Gary Alejano has authored a bill requiring all students graduating from elementary school, high school, and university to plant at least 10 trees by graduation in order to receive their diploma.
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The bill, House Bill 8728, was approved by the House of Representatives in May.
“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,” Alejano explained in the bill’s explanatory note.
“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 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.”
An additional 175 million new trees each year would make less than 5 percent of the world’s tree loss every year, but even that small of an impact could be massive for a smaller geographical nation like the Philippines. The small island nation is one of the most heavily deforested regions in the world.
The trees will be planted everywhere from military burial sites to parks and urban districts, with preference being placed on trees indigenous to the area and the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education overseeing the initiative.
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It’s a revolutionary idea, and it won’t make an immediate impact overnight. Every tree is different, but can take anywhere from five years to 20 years to properly mature—so for the massive, majestic trees that are felled each year, it’s going to take quite some time for their replacements to grow up enough to impact the environment.
The Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education are set to work together with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples—which shows that everyone from all reaches of the Filipino government are committed to saving the planet for future generations.
At the very least, the bill’s backers hope that the new law will provide millions of new trees for future generations to enjoy.