Philippines – 10 trees per year to graduate?
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In Southeast Asia, the forest cover of the Philippine archipelago has declined from 70% to less than 20% during the 20th century, leaving only 3.2% of its rainforests intact today. This is due to intensive logging, which is now being replaced by the expansion of agricultural land and, to a lesser extent, the effect of cyclones and typhoons.
Faced with this problem, the draft law, to be known as the “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act”, adopted by the Lower House on 15 May 2019, sends a simple and powerful message to Filipino youth: from now on, schoolchildren will each have to plant 10 trees per year to obtain their diploma. The draft law aims to develop awareness and ethical principles for the sustainable use of natural resources, and encourages students to focus on native species that correspond to the climate and topography of the region. The Bill also directs that trees be planted in mangroves and protected areas, ancestral domains, reserves, urban areas, on mining sites or other suitable land.
With 17 million Filipinos enrolled in school each year, the initiative, if the law is finally passed and promulgated, would result in 175 million new trees per year, or 525 billion trees planted in one generation.
Planting trees is a global response to accelerating climate change. While the Philippines are innovating by directly involving their youth, millions of Ethiopians mobilised on 30 July 2019 to plant 353 million trees in 12 hours! With its “Green Legacy” project, Ethiopia hopes to plant 4 billion trees before the end of the rainy season in early October. Australia also announced in February 2019 its intention to plant one billion trees by 2050.