2002 Associate Laureate, Environment
The son of a herbalist who taught him to love nature, Sebastian Chuwa, who was born in 1954 and died in April 2014, was only a child when he began growing trees and plants near Mt Kilimanjaro in his native Tanzania.
Chuwa, a botanist, turned this childhood vocation into a 2002 Rolex Award-winning project to expand his reforestation activities in degraded areas and develop grassroots, community-based educational programmes, particularly for students. Almost single-handedly Chuwa helped save the threatened African blackwood (mpingo), used internationally for woodwind instrument production.
The truck that Chuwa bought with the Award funding enabled him to visit more schools and step up his efforts to plant and distribute many more tree seedlings each year. Significantly, graduates of his educational programmes are now implementing their own environmental projects.
As a spin-off to his project, Chuwa worked with several groups to grow and distribute organic, disease-resistant coffee trees, providing farmers with a more reliable income.
Updated in 2014