We first became involved with Friends of Mau Watershed (FOMAWA) in 2006. Since then we have funded the planting of woodlots at 149 schools. The trees are looked after by the school children, which helps to engender a positive attitude to growing trees, a skill they can use in later life.
Planting trees in schools is a model that works on many levels. Environmental education can be really enhanced when the children can get practically involved by having their own tree to look after, and to understand that their actions can make a difference. Schools benefit in the long-term by having timber to sell after around 10 years of growth, providing a valuable income, as well as taking some of the pressure off any remaining indigenous forest.
FOMAWA have been trying a new method of encouraging the children in each school to engage with the tree planting: “Plant a Bottle – Grow a Tree”. Discarded plastic bottles are commonplace and children are asked to bring a used bottle to school. The bottle is filled with water and “planted” upside down with a pierced lid, next to a young sapling. The half-buried bottle is an effective way to give the young trees a regular and fairly constant supply of water. It also gives the children a chance to keep an eye on their tree as they refill the bottle and take care of the sapling.
The schools planted at the beginning of our partnership are now harvesting and selling their timber. To date, a total of 4,627,800 Kenya shillings (about £37,000) has been raised from timber sales at these schools, which is a very valuable boost to school incomes.