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