An initiative aimed at reversing deforestation in Tanzania, one of Africa’s countries most affected by biodiversity loss, was launched in December 2016 by committed young people from the Raleigh Tanzania Society. The society is a passionate national network of former volunteers that completed volunteering progammes with Raleigh Tanzania, a sustainable development charity.
Since its launch, ‘The Youth For Green Growth’ project has been able to organise and partner with local communities and local government across Tanzania, and has planted more than 12000 trees so far.
The “50 Million Trees for 50 Million people” initiative is designed to encourage small efforts from every Tanzanian to tackle the negative environmental impact brought by deforestation. It aims to plant a total of 50 million trees in Tanzania by 2020 in partnership with the private sector, civil societies, the government and communities at the grassroots level.
In its pilot stage, the trees were planted by young people aged 18-30 from the Raleigh Tanzania Society, in partnership with the local government, and the JKT (The National Service Volunteers) and schoolchildren from around Tanzania. As well as setting up tree nurseries, and restoring primary forest with indigenous trees, communities plants trees on their farms to restore soil fertility, provide shade for other crops, and produce fruits, nuts and medicines. As well as tree planting, the campaign delivers awareness raising on the benefits of environmental protection and conservation at the community level and on online platforms.
In social networks, this campaign is promoted by dedicated youth volunteers through #50MillionTrees and #Youth4GreenGrowth hashtags, with the aim of reaching more people to raise awareness about the importance of tree planting and environmental conservation.
The campaign supports part of a wider strategy by the Tanzania government to increase tree cover, restore degraded land and contribute to global efforts to tackle climate change under the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals, specifically; Life on Land, Climate Action and Sustainable Cities and Communities. In Tanzania, official government data shows that every year between 300000 and 400000 hectares are deforested, mainly due to the need for charcoal for energy in urban areas, and for lumber. Trees play a vital role in rural and urban populations. They are needed to enrich and anchor soil, to maximize water supplies, to beautify and humanise townships and urban areas and to provide shade and shelter. They are also crucial for biodiversity conservation. Products and services from trees include food, timber, medicines and energy. The impact of planting trees is one of the ways of offsetting our carbon emissions.
Phase one of the Youth for Green Growth in Tanzania is being spearheaded and supported by Raleigh International Tanzania, a sustainable development organisation with 30 years of expertise in working with, through and for with young people around the world to create lasting change. The Y4GG project is funded by The Oak Foundation.