So, you’re done with your finals, all your teachers have signed your clearance, and your graduation gown is ready for your commencement exercise. Uhm, wait. It looks like you have to finish this additional requirement before you get that degree. Based on the recently approved House Bill 8728 or the Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act, elementary, high school, and college students are now required to plant 10 trees before they graduate.
Magdalo Partylist Representative Gary Alejano explains that such mandate would ensure at least 175 million trees each year, when implemented properly. “In the course of one generation, no less than 525 billion can be planted under this initiative,” he says.
As the bill concerns students, the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education will be the implementing agencies of the said law. They will also coordinate with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to build nurseries and nurture tree seedlings before the planting activities. I suppose these government agencies will also sustain plant care after tree planting.
Graduating students will plant these trees in reforestation venues, ancestral domains, urban spaces, and other suitable areas.
The approval of this law is good news for the environment. It’s also good thing the new law specifies that trees planted must be suitable to the selected site. But what is a good law if it’s not implemented properly? We already have a law (Republic Act No. 10176) that requires Filipinos from 12 years old and above to plant at least one tree each year, but I don’t think everyone is planting one tree a year.
Aside from that, tree planting isn’t just about digging the soil, propping in the seedling, and filling the hole back with soil. Trees are known to be resilient to drought and flood, but young seedlings don’t have that extensive root system to support them through trying times. So, I hope both the students and government agencies involved are willing to perform tree nurturing activities, especially in the summer.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? But I’m telling you tree planting is fun!