An unprecedented law will require nearly 18 million students — at all levels, from elementary through college — to plant 10 trees each in order to graduate. And it may represent a crucial piece of solving the world’s greenhouse gas crisis.
A remarkable Filipino tradition formally became law this month when legislators passed the Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act. The new law will require every graduating student in elementary school, high school, and college to plant 10 trees before graduating.
Officials expect the law could result in “at least 175 million new trees” planted each year, according to CNN Philippines. In addition to beautifying the natural landscape, the initiative could be a small step toward reining in what many consider runaway CO2 levels in Earth’s atmosphere.
Filipino Law: Students Must Plant 10 Trees to Graduate
While the law has yet to go into effect, officials released some logistical details. First, preference will go to trees indigenous to a particular location, climate, and topography. Further, planting will focus on “forest lands, 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.”
“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. Gary Alejano, the bill’s co-author, told CNN. “In the course of one generation, no less than 525 billion can be planted under this initiative.”
The nation’s Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education will partner with a range of environmental, agricultural, and other governing bodies to implement the plan.
By passing the law, the Philippines takes a very public step to address a growing climate crisis. Earlier this year, environmental scientists in Zurich estimated that planting 1.2 trillion (with a “T”) new trees could absorb more carbon than humans put out, effectively beginning to heal Earth’s atmosphere. What’s more, the paper identified sufficient room for those trees in the world’s existing forests, parks, and unused land.