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Sebastian Chuwa

Two million trees

Published in 2002clockTime to read: 45s
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The vision of award-winning botanist Sebastian Chuwa rallied the people of northern Tanzania to create a sustainable future through a massive reforestation project.

locationTanzania

In his native Tanzania, Sebastian Chuwa saw his people’s ability to support themselves was in peril. Subsistence farming by a poor – and growing – population was leading to deforestation, exacerbating the threat to an already fragile ecosystem. In response, Chuwa launched a programme of spearheading tree planting and environmental education near Mount Kilimanjaro where he lived.

Environmental efforts will only succeed in my country if environmental education is targeted at a grassroots level.

The patience and perseverance of the conservationist, who died in 2014, spurred communities into action, sowing the seeds for a better future through an informal reforestation project in northern Tanzania that included the prized African blackwood, or mpingo, and encouraged thousands of schoolchildren to plant tree seedlings.

Chuwa credited his Rolex Award with allowing him to reach the milestone of 1 million trees planted by 2004. It enabled his African Blackwood Conservation Project (ABCP) to develop the mpingo nursery and buy a four-wheel drive, a catalyst to the project’s success. In 2010, he celebrated the planting of 2 million trees, and pledged to plant another 5 million over the next five years.

Since Chuwa’s death, his family has maintained his legacy, renovating a nursery growing seedlings and involving new schools and communities in tree-planting projects. In addition, the family has organized grass-roots initiatives to protect the Mount Kilimanjaro watershed, vital to the ecology of northern Tanzania.

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