The House of Representatives has just approved on third and final reading House Bill 8728 or the “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act” which requires all graduating elementary, high school, and college students to plant at least 10 trees each as a prerequisite for graduation.

In a press release (LINK), the House of Representatives stated that the bill which is principally authored by Reps. Gary Alejano (Party-list, MAGDALO) and Strike Revilla (2nd District, Cavite), states that “it is the policy of the State to pursue programs and projects that promote environmental protection, biodiversity, climate change mitigation, poverty reduction, and food security. To this end, the educational system shall be a locus for propagating ethical and sustainable use of natural resources among the young to ensure the cultivation of a socially-responsible and conscious citizenry“.

In his explanation, Alejano said that the country produces 17.5 million graduates each year (12 million from elementary and nearly five million students graduating from high school and almost 500,000 graduating from college) and event with a survival rate of only 10 percent, there would still additional 525 million trees would be available for the youth to enjoy.

The trees shall be planted in forestlands, 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. The planted species of trees should be appropriate to the location, climate and topography of the area with preference for the planting of indigenous species.

photo by Lopez-Quezon Times

Tasked to implement the provisions of the measure are the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) together with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), among others.

photo by SAS Ompuri

Accordingly, the said agencies shall be responsible for nursery establishment, seedling production and site preparation, monitoring and evaluation, and technical support and extension services. They must also provide security, transportation, fire protection amenities, and medical support.

Download a copy of HB 8728 HERE.

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