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Sustainable Global Gardens - Tree Planting on Mount Kilimanjaro

Sustainable Global Gardens - Tree Planting on Mount Kilimanjaro

A lot of people know the glaciers at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro are melting.  Most people understand this to be a direct result of global warming.  While partly correct, this is not the main driver.

Like most parts of the world the prevailing winds are from the west.  Looking at the map you can see Mount Kilimanjaro is well over to the east of Africa and surrounded by a lot of fairly flat land to the west.

Subsistence farmers around the foothills of Kilimanjaro were encouraged to cut down the forests to try and produce grasslands to feed their animals,  Unfortunately most of the land was of poor quality and just reverted to scrubland.  With no trees to retain the soil it was prone to soil erosion in the monsoon season making the situation worse.

The tree belt around Kilimanjaro had two major functions: firstly it slowed the speed of the wind, and secondly, due to the trees shedding moisture from their leaves, it cooled the air. Once this tree belt had been mostly removed both these became less effective.  The west winds blowing across the plains, picking up heat were then able to blow up the side of the mountain unhindered. The rest is obvious.

Sustainable Global Gardens a partnership between Rotary clubs in Tanzania and Rotary Great Britain and Ireland supporting the work of the local people to replace the lost trees plus going one step further: planting fruit trees as well as indigenous trees. The fruit trees of course produce a cash crop as income which enables the process to be self-sustaining.

Rotarian Paul Keeley and his wife, Carole, manage the on-going tree-growing program.  Trees are not only planted.  Paul and Carole visit and count the trees on an annual basis.  

Paul Keeley, ESRAG member and Managing Director of Sustainable Global Gardensdemonstrates how to plant a tree


School children are involved through an annual competition between schools.  The trees are counted on an annual basis.  In other words, there are incentives to guard against cutting the trees down for firewood.  The trees become a source of food, a source of income for the farmers on whose land some of the trees are being planted, and a source of pride for the school children.  The soil and snows of Mt. Kilomanjaro benefit.

Read about the schools and their progress in the  annual report for 2018

Already six years running, this project is a collaboration of local Rotary clubs in Great Britain and Tanzania, school children in Tanzania, and a partnership initiated by The Sustainability Trust, ESRAG's predecessor, with the Sustainable Global Gardens (SGG).   Rotary International of Great Britain and Ireland (RIGBI or RIBI for short) provides financial and on site support. 

What had they accomplished by this time last year?  An estimated 8,500 trees were planted by about 7,500 students at the 25 participating schools.  Another 4,200 seedlings were distributed to students for planting in home gardens.  In addition to the benefits of the trees themselves, the project is building friendships and awareness of Rotary and the joy of Service Above Self.   Here are Project Reports from 2015 and 2016 and 2017 .


                                                   Majevu School in Tanzania, December 2017


Whatever else has been achieved in this project, we have managed to engage several thousand young Tanzanians in tree-planting activities. Does not that in itself make our efforts worthwhile? Is not helpful contact the whole basis of what Rotarians are trying to do?

Project Category: 
Tree planting
Sustainable economies
Air pollution
Forests - preventing deforestation