The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is partnering with the Department of Education (DepEd) for a project to promote planting of native trees in public schools nationwide.

DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones said the School in a Garden Project or SIGA aims to teach children about the importance of trees and forests, and help them become an environmentally conscious generation.

“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,” Leones said.

Leones said the DENR and DepEd will soon sign a memorandum of agreement to formalize their partnership.

The SIGA program is a revival of a past DepEd project that enabled students to plant medium-sized flowering trees similar to the concept of cherry blossoms in Japan. It aims to showcase trees that are endemic to the Philippines, such as banaba and fire trees, which are colorful and flowering all-year round.

These colorful trees, according to DepEd Undersecretary Alain Pascua, will be planted not only within school campuses, but also in neighboring areas.

Also to be planted in school premises are heritage trees, which are typically individual large trees with unique value and considered irreplaceable because of their designation such as age, rarity and size, and historical value.

During a recent meeting for the project, the DENR agreed to provide planting materials, training and technical expertise to the DepEd to ensure the success of the undertaking.

“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,” Leones said. ###