The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on the third and final hearing a bill that requires all graduating grade school, high school and college students to plant at least ten trees each as a prerequisite for graduation.

Under the House Bill (HB) 8728 or the “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act” principally authored by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano  and 2nd District, Cavite Rep. Strike Revilla , 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.”

“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,” the measure read.

If signed into law, the trees shall be planted in state-designated 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 also be appropriate to the location, climate and topography of the area with a preference for the planting of indigenous species, a congress press release said.

The Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education shall also work with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and other related government agencies to implement the provisions of the measure.

In the explanatory note of HB 1154, one of the bills consolidated into HB 8728, Alejano said that while the right of the youth to a balanced and healthful ecology must be recognized, there is no reason why the youth cannot be made to contribute.

“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. In the course of one generation, no less than 525 billion can be planted under this initiative,

“Even with a survival rate of only 10 percent, 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.

Meanwhile, Revilla added that there is “no debate regarding the need to protect the environment and preserve the country’s ecological balance.”

“With the continued rise in urbanization, our ecology is suffering in the sense that trees are being cut to give way for various infrastructure projects,” he said. (PacificTimes)