In order to graduate, students in Philippines will now be required to do more than just maintain a passing grade.
A new law will make it mandatory for graduating elementary school, high school, and college students to plant at least 10 trees before graduation.
The legislation, called the “Graduation Legacy for the Environmental Act,” was passed on May 15 and aims to tackle deforestation while helping younger generations become more environmentally conscious.
"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,” Representative Gary Alejano, the bill’s main author, said in its explanatory note.
The Department of Education and the Commission of Higher Education are responsible for implementing and ensuring compliance with the new law.
“In the course of one generation, no less than 525 billion [trees] can be planted under this initiative,” Alejano said.
The new legislation is part of the broader effort by the Philippines government to tackle effects of climate change by adopting measures for reforestation.
The Philippines is facing deforestation on a more severe level than most countries in the world. The total forest cover in the country dropped from 70% to 20% during the 20th century, mainly due to an increase in illegal logging — the production and transport of timber in unauthorized areas.
Soil erosion resulting from deforestation and monocropping — the repeated farming of a single crop on the same land year after year — has also led to food and water insecurity throughout the country.
With reduced forest cover and frequent typhoons, landslides have become a common occurrence.
According to CNN, students will plant trees in mangroves, existing forests, protected areas, some military ranges, abandoned lots, and select urban areas. The species of trees to be planted will vary and will be chosen with the topography of the land in mind.
“Even with a survival rate of only 10%, 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,” Alejano said.