Tree planting by parents, new graduates approved in House bills

Published September 7, 2020, 5:08 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

The Climate Change Commission (CCC) cited the approval on third and final reading of House Bill (HB) 6930 or the “Family Tree Planting Act” and HB 6931 or the “Graduation Legacy for Reforestation Act” that will help promote a “whole-of-nation” approach in protecting and preserving the environment.

HB 6930 seeks to mandate all expectant parents residing in the country, whether legally married or not, to plant two trees for every child born to them within their own home’s premises or in a designated area in their barangay, within 30 days after the child’s birth. 

Once enacted, this will be a requirement before the parents can claim their newborn’s birth certificate. 

HB 6931 meanwhile aims to mandate graduating senior high school (SHS) and college students to plant two trees in areas in their locality designated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in coordination with the concerned local government unit and the schools, colleges, and universities. 

Once enacted, this will be added among the requirements for the students’ graduation.

According to the CCC, these measures will help increase the awareness of Filipinos, particularly families and the youth, on the current state of the environment and the role of trees in mitigating climate impacts and disasters by retaining water to prevent landslides and flashfloods, acting as carbon sinks, and protecting and restoring natural ecosystems and biodiversity.

Based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Climate Change and Land, “planting trees will always result in capturing more atmospheric carbon dioxide and thus in annual mean cooling of the globe.”

As plants and trees grow, they take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into sugars through photosynthesis. Planting additional trees could remove more carbon from the atmosphere and store it for a long time, as well as improve soil quality at a relatively low cost, it added.

Through these bills, the CCC hopes that these could further bolster and sustain local greening initiatives and mainstream the importance of planting the right species of trees, especially in vulnerable areas across the country. 

In a related note, a group of young Filipinos will be sounding the alarm on the urgency of climate change issues by holding a protest action in time for the observance of the Global Day of Climate Action on Sept. 25.

“It’s important that even during our current public health crisis, we recognize that the climate crisis still exists and we still have to act now if we want to meet our deadline,” Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP) spokesperson Xian Guevarra said.

“We want the national government and big businesses to listen to our demands and act now before it’s too late,” he added.

The nationwide action dubbed “Kamay para sa Klima: Hands-on Climate Action,” is set to have protest centers around the country that share a unified theme that calls on Filipinos to be hands-on when it comes to climate action. 

In line with this theme, youth activists will spell out pro-climate action messages with chalk handprints, making a grand total of 25,000 handprints across the various strike centers.

The group explained that the 25,000 handprints symbolize the more than 25,000 individuals around the world who signed the recent petition spearheaded by environment and climate groups, including YACAP, against the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, a law which the alliance sees as a threat to environment and climate activism.

The main protest center in Quezon City will feature a large map of the world with pins that indicate the various countries where the petition signatories come from.