The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), together with the Department of Education (DepEd), is pushing for the promotion of planting native trees in public schools all around the country.
Jonas Leones, DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs, explains their new program, the School in a Garden Project (SIGA), which aims to make children more environmentally conscious, by teaching them about the importance of trees and forests.
“We hope that through the SIGA program, we are able to instill in the young minds how significant forests are to their lives, so that the heritage of environmental conservation continues,” says Leones.
He explains that the two departments will be signing a memorandum of agreement to formalize their partnership.
Flowering trees we can be proud of
The SIGA program is a revival of a previous DepEd project that enables students to plant medium-sized flowering trees, similar to the concept of Japan’s Cherry Blossoms. The program aims to showcase trees that are endemic to the Philippines, such as the Banaba and the Fire Tree, which are colorful and are flowering all-year round.
DepEd Undersecretary Alain Pascua also explains that these colorful trees will be planted in neighboring areas in addition to school campuses. This is so they can also help improve entire neighborhoods.
SIGA also plans to plant heritage trees in school premises – these trees are typically large and with unique value, and also considered irreplaceable because of their rarity, size, and historical value.
In recent meetings regarding the project, DENR agreed to provide planting materials, as well as training and technical expertise to the DepEd to ensure the success of SIGA.
“DENR can provide the saplings. We can also involve the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau to include native species. Our timeline for these convergence activities should be done as quickly as possible,” explains Leones.