FAO in the Philippines

FAO and the Philippines launch forest education programme for primary schools

Innovative lessons aim to inspire new generations to protect and use forests wisely


1 March 2024, Manila – A new programme for teaching primary school children about forests was launched today by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Department of Education (DepEd), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines.

The programme covers forests in far greater detail than primary schools have previously done and uses an innovative teaching method, involving games and hands-on activities, in and outside the classroom, to engage and inspire 9-12 year olds.

“By weaving forest education into the curriculum, we are manifesting our firm commitment to guiding our learners towards a deeper understanding and respect for our forests,” remarked Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte in her video message during the national launch of the forest education teacher’s guide.

“Let’s make a collective commitment to empower our youth, not just as inheritors of this planet, but as architects of its greener and brighter future,” said Asec. Arleigh Adorable, the DENR Assistant Secretary for Field Operations – Western Mindanao and concurrent Forest Management Bureau Director.

The programme provides detailed plans and information for weekly lessons on topics relevant to forests, including tree species and forest animals in the Philippines, forest layers and water cycles, deforestation, forest ecosystems and sustainable beekeeping.

Content has been developed to build children’s awareness of global forest issues while also being highly relevant to the national context and to children’s daily lives, and has already been piloted at Lagro Elementary School in Quezon City, Metro Manila.

Inspiring future generations

Despite the importance of forests in achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals, a recent global assessment revealed that forest education is frequently insufficient in many places around the world, and topics related to forests and their sustainable use are often absent from school curriculums entirely.

Young people tend to regard forestry careers as having little status, which may lead to a lack of foresters among future generations to safeguard these precious natural resources.


“Introducing forest education from primary years can instill an understanding and awareness that will help future generations make informed decisions about the sustainable use of our forest resources,” said FAO Forestry Officer Maria De Cristofaro, who heads FAO’s Forest education project. “It can also help children realize that there is a very broad range of modern forestry careers available today, including lawyers, chemists, economists, accountants, biologists, engineers, surveyors, IT experts and drone operators.”

FAO has developed the new forest programme with the Philippines and Tanzania, but it is designed to be easily adaptable for use in any country. A publication, Guidance on developing forest education programmes for primary schools, is available for countries wishing to introduce or adapt the programme to their local context.

Safeguarding natural resources

Forests and woodlands are a vital source of food and livelihoods for many Filipinos, including Indigenous populations.

However, habitat degradation and loss, illegal logging, climate change, and unsustainable practices, such as fuelwood collection and livestock grazing, threaten Philippines’ forests, and forest cover has reduced from 34 percent to 24 percent in the last 50 years.       

 Improving forest education is part of the national strategy for ensuring forest conservation and sustainable use, which also includes new regulations, policies, acts and guidelines.