Forget paying library fines, turning in that band instrument or taking final exams in order to get that diploma. A recently-passed bill in the Philippines Congress requires all elementary, high school and college graduates in the country to plant 10 trees each as a prerequisite for graduation.
House Bill 8728, also known as the Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act, now goes to the Senate for approval. If it passes through the Senate as well, it will become law.
Why make planting trees a goal for students at each milestone graduation? Sponsors Gary Alejano (MAGDALO Party-list Representative) and Strike Revilla (2nd District, Cavite) believe it’s a good way to allow young people to help the environment and develop a legacy.
“While we recognise 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 said in the bill’s explanatory note.
Deforestation in the Philippines has been a growing issue in the last 40 years. It has contributed to the loss of rich agricultural soil, biodiversity and watersheds and an increase in mudslides and other problems.
With some 12 million elementary school graduates each year, 5 million high school graduates and 500,000 college graduates each year, requiring students to assist in environmental efforts means around 175 million new trees could be planted annually if every graduate planted 10.
Alejano estimaes that, taking into account only a 10% tree survival rate, that would still mean about 525 million additional trees growing in the Philippines over one generation.
The bill stipulates that new trees should be suitable for the location in which they’re planted, and preference will be given to indigenous species.
“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 from the House of Representatives states.
The act requires that educational, indigenous and environmental agencies in the Philippines work together to provide enough support, oversight and supplies to make the tree planting project possible.
However, whether or not new trees are enough to replace the functions of the old-growth forests which have disappeared due to logging, mining and other human activities in the 7,641 islands that make up the Phillippines is questionable.
What do you think about this interesting graduate prerequisite?