New Filipino Law Requires High School Students To Plant 10 Trees Before Graduation

This bill could change the whole country.

A new law will formalize a longstanding tradition in the Philippines: all graduating high school and college students will need to plant 10 trees before they graduate.

The bill, which aims to combat climate change, could result in 525 billion trees being planted by the next generation of Filipinos. Gary Alejano, who helped author the legislation, said that number could be eclipsed in a single generation.

"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," he wrote in the bill.

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Alejano added that even if the trees only had a 10 percent survival rate, it would still mean another 525 million trees being planted. CNN Philippines reported that the trees will be planted in mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domains, civil and military reservations, urban areas and forest lands, among others. The bill ensures that trees will be planted in areas according to their species and there will be a preference for indigenous tree species.

Several government departments will work in conjunction to ensure that the trees are planted and oversee the projects, including the Department of Education and the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. 

Along with the trees' ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere, the Filipino government is hoping that the law will encourage an entire generation to become more in touch with their environment. It's also meant to push back on deforestation, which is a rampant problem in the Philippines. In the 20th century, the Philippines went from having 70 percent forest coverage to just 20 percent, according to The Independent.

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