Submitted by: African Blackwood Conservation Project
Implemented country: United States
Title: Kilimanjaro Youth Conservation Project
For the past 13 years, student groups on Mt. Kilimanjaro, under the tutelage of Sebastian Chuwa, a Tanzanian botanist, have been working towards building a more sustainable way of life for their communities by dedicating effort and energy towards reforesting the mountain and spreading the word about sustainability and environmental protection. Mt. Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania is one of Africa’s most reliable and abundant watersheds, supplying communities for hundreds of miles around with runoff from its slopes. But for the past 40 years the people of Kilimanjaro have suffered a succession of setbacks that have taken a severe economic toll on the population and consequently a severe environmental toll on the mountain. In the 1960’s Coffee Berry Disease attacked coffee plantations, adversely affecting the primary source of cash income in the area. The use of chemicals to combat the disease introduced pesticides into the ecosystem, polluting water sources and contributing to a loss of biodiversity. People who had come to rely on a cash income began to cut trees for income, to meet their family needs. All of these practices have resulted in widespread deforestation on the mountain. Determined to promote awareness and do something practical to reverse the situation, Sebastian Chuwa began an outreach focused on two activities: 1) conservation education in schools, 2) tree planting initiatives. In cooperation with school administrators they decided to include environmental studies in the school curriculum and to provide school land for establishing tree nurseries. The project arranges field trips for teachers and students to national parks to learn greater appreciation for African wildlife.