The small island nation of the Philippines hopes to mitigate deforestation and climate change. Encouraging the next generation to leave a legacy could be key.
On May 15, 2019, the Philippines passed a new bill, called the “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act.” The law would require students to plant at least 10 trees in order to graduate. It applies to graduates from elementary and high school, as well as colleges and universities.
The law could be an opportunity for young people to take serious action against climate change. Under this law, students would plant over 175 million trees each year. Students will plant these trees in urban areas, forestlands, and even abandoned mines. Experts will carefully choose indigenous species based on the climate and topography of the area.
The Philippines has seen increasing levels of deforestation throughout the 20th century. Thus, the country is in desperate need of such a widespread and sustainable tree-planting program. Forbes estimates that “24.2 million acres of forests were cut down from 1934 to 1988…The implementation of this new law could trigger a fulcrum whereby the Philippines switches from net loss to net gain of trees.”
Reassuringly, the proposed bill is a sign that governments are serious about pursuing programs to promote environmental protection and climate change mitigation. The bill was passed by the Philippines’ House of Representatives and is currently awaiting approval from the Senate.