Photo by Todd Shaffer.

Police officers in the Philippines are trading their guns and billy clubs for weapons of mass construction: shovels, watering cans, and gardening gloves. That’s because they’re partnering with the country’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources to combat climate change and deforestation. Their Green Ops mission? Plant 10 million treesin one year.

The push to reforest the Philippines comes on the heels of a recent executive order by President Benigno Aquino, known as the National Greening Program, which aims to rehabilitate nearly 500 thousand acres of previously cleared forest cover by February 2013.

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Indeed, the tree-planting police operation comes not a moment too soon: The Philippines has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. While trees used to cover all of the country’s islands, only 35 percent of the Philippines’ forests remain today.

Each of the Philippine National Police’s 140,000 officers will need to plant six seedlings a month for the next year in order to meet the country’s ambitious tree goal. Looks like the officers’ green thumbs will be getting a lot more action than their trigger fingers.

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