By Sandra Vaughan, Grand Circle Foundation Project Manager, East Africa
Climate change and global warming are hot topics for discussion evoking all sorts of emotions. Approximately 41 million trees are cut daily and we are nowhere near replanting at that speed, which will result in mass deforestation.
Planting trees is a simple thing everyone can do to reduce carbon dioxide, a principal greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. No matter where you live, you can plant trees ... and take a proactive, positive step toward keeping our planet healthy.
Last year in India, a record-breaking 66 million trees were planted by a team of 1.5 million volunteers. While Grand Circle Foundation hasn’t broken any records in East Africa, we have certainly been persistent, and every year we try to plant between 100 and 300 trees in every school we support.
At seven of our schools in Tanzania, we have managed to plant over 2,265 trees this year. The majority of these are shade trees, but every school has also planted between ten and 36 fruit trees.
At Lemong’o School in Kenya, not only did we plant trees including macadamia nut, giant passion fruit, guava, apple, and avocado, but we also paid for an outside agency to come in and do some onsite training with the Maasai ladies on planting and looking after the seedlings for the next 18 months. This is necessary until they develop a good root system and no longer need watering daily. At our other school in Kenya, we planted 70 indigenous trees along with fruit and nut trees.
What has been interesting to note is that while I was out and about searching for a new school to support, every school I drove into (barring one) had already planted trees and was busy watering them. This inspired me, as my visit was random and unscheduled, and it shows there has been a shift in behavior and everyone realizes the importance of trees.
Did you know that Tarangire and Eluway Primary in Tanzania have no fences around their schools? That opens the door for goats, sheep, and cows to eat our seedlings. Under village bylaws, and with Chief Lobulo’s agreement, the schools can fine herders 50,000 Tanzanian shillings ($25) if any seedling is eaten! We haven’t lost any yet!
Thanks to all our teachers and students who brought the trees and then got them planted. It was a mammoth task. Eluway planted more than 400 trees under the watchful eye of the Chief. Half were funded by Grand Circle Foundation, and half by the community.
And thank you, as always, to our generous travelers who continue to donate towards projects like this. We are making an impact.
See firsthand the difference Grand Circle Foundation is making in East Africa when you join O.A.T. for The Best of Kenya & Tanzania.