Schools environmental education in Africa

If you would like to help Plant a Tree in Africa (PATIA) establish environmental education projects in African schools please make a DONATION :

Tree planting and environmental education in Africa

Plant a Tree in Africa (PATIA) is a small charity requesting funds to:

  • promote the raising and out-planting of indigenous trees in Africa primarily for agroforestry, water catchment protection, food and medicine and the regeneration of natural forests.
  • establish environmental education in African schools which will teach the benefits of organic methods of farming and the importance of planting and preserving indigenous trees to ensure biodiversity.

The need
Africa suffered a net loss of forests exceeding 4 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2005, according to FAO. This was mainly due to conversion of forest lands to agriculture.  Forest cover went from 655.6 million hectares (ha) to 635.4 million ha during this period (FAO).
Despite the many negative aspects of plantations of eucalyptus, pine, acacia, rubber and oil palm the area of these plantations increased by 32% (11,663 mil ha – 15,409 ha) between 1990 and 2010.
PATIA wishes to help reduce these trends.  Eucalyptus can cause the reduction of water supplies and reductions in crop yields on adjoining farmland.  Pine can increase soil acidification.  Both types support only a small amount of biodiversity compared to natural forest.
The spread of eucalyptus trees can result in very negative outcomes for women farmers who are forced to walk long distances to find suitable farm land and obtain water during the dry season.

What this project will do
PATIA will:

  • establish environmental education programmes (practical and theory) in African schools.
  • establish nurseries to raise indigenous species of trees and out-plant into final locations.

Through its non-government organisation partners in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Zimbabwe PATIA aims to achieve these objects according to the funds available.  Schools will be expected to allocate an area of land for planting tree seedlings and growing crops organically.  The education will include information about biodiversity in natural forests and the uses of indigenous tree species including medicinal, nitrogen-fixing, fruit, timber, water catchment protection, fertilizer and for shade.

cameroon.shumas.eucalyptus.replacement.project.phase1. Area of agroforestryIn addition to the environmental education programme, the local community will establish nurseries to raise and out-plant indigenous tree species for fruit, agroforestry and water catchment protection.  The project will not pay for land acquisition.


Professor Wangari Maathai and childrens' TV science presenter, Johnny Ball, at a Swindon junior school.

Professor Wangari Maathai and childrens’ TV science presenter, Johnny Ball, at a Swindon junior school.

PATIA was established in 1985 following the example of the Greenbelt Movement in Kenya founded by Professor Wangari Maathai.   Between 2006 and 2008 the presenter of this project, Michael Thomas, made successful applications to the Funding Network and the Network for Social Change for a total of £13,313 to establish environmental education programmes in 10 schools in the Cameroon.  The money was routed through the Future in Our Hands Education and Development Fund which was managing a large tree planting project in the country at that time.
PATIA has supported small community tree planting projects in 9 countries since its foundation.

Objects and activities – Schools environmental programme
Each school will establish:

  • a model school farm and clubs in which children will gain practical farming knowledge (seed selection, planting and growing crops, nursing of crops and tree seeds, harvesting, storing, marketing, etc).
  • education and practical knowledge of the importance of trees in the community.  From the experience of past programmes, children are expected to influence their parents concerning environmental issues and rural development.
  • practical and theoretical teaching of organic methods of farming.

The project will involve:

  • the use of a plot of land near or, adjacent to, the school – about 1 acre average.  The land will be divided into small plots each of which will contain a different crop.  Crop rotation will be practised.
  • part of the land being used for raising indigenous trees, including fruit trees.  Pupils will be organised to make trips to areas of natural forest where this is practical and taught how good seeds can be gathered.  Thereafter there will be practical lessons on how to treat seeds, nurse them, transfer them into polythene pots and plant them into their final locations.
  • environmental lectures at least once a month.  These will include the economic and ecological advantages of different indigenous tree species and the social and environmental problems associated with plantations of eucalyptus, pine, rubber and palm oil and the excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
  • school competitions: quizzes will be conducted and prizes awarded to deserving pupils.
  • publication of an educational illustrated booklet for distribution to schools.

Objects and activities – Community tree planting programme
The project will involve:

  • the raising and out-planting of fruit/nut and/or indigenous trees for agroforestry and water catchment protection.  The number and types of trees will be determined through sensitisation and involvement of all sectors of the community with a special emphasis on reducing poverty and inequality.
  • crop farming using organic methods of growing and pest control.  In the longer term, crops and nitrogen-fixing trees will be inter-planted using agroforestry techniques using the seedlings raised in the nurseries.

As a result of the environmental education and community tree planting, a greater understanding of the ecological and economic benefits of organic farming and indigenous trees is expected by the whole community.
The school and community programmes are expected to be profitable in the short and long-term.
Profits from the sale of vegetables and seedlings will help the school with teacher salaries, school equipment and sponsoring the fees of pupils from poor families.
Environmental clubs will help to establish long term sustainability.
The following budgets are based on £2,000 being available for one environmental education project and £2,000 for one community tree planting project.

Budget for environmental education in one school:
Project management salaries  £200
Staff training  £150
Administrative costs  £50
Environmental education  £300
Training materials and equipment  £150
Transport costs for school visits  £80
Polypots  £630
Seeds  £130
Education materials  £100
Prizes  £60
PATIA administration  £150
Total £2,000

Budget for community tree planting project
Project management salaries  £200
Staff training  £150
Administrative costs  £50
Community consultation – hire of hall and food  £70
Training materials and equipment  £110
Transport costs for out-planting  £300
Polypots  £720
Seeds  £150
Education materials  £100
PATIA administration  £150
Total £2,000

PATIA hopes to secure funds to establish environmental education programmes and community tree planting in 4 countries – 4 x 4,000 = £16,000 .

Video showing part of a previous environmental education programme run by Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch

If you would like to help PATIA achieve this aim please make a DONATION :

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