At Mwandi primary school in Simalaha, teachers are attending a workshop as part of a Peace Park’s Environmental Education Programme to educate children in rural communities to care about the environment and understand how best to look after it. This is an exciting initiative with Children in the Wilderness (CITW), a non-profit organisation, which aims to facilitate sustainable conservation in Africa. By focusing on the next generation of decision-makers, the hope is that they will become the guardians of their natural heritage in the future.

The beauty of this environmental outreach programme is that the Eco-Clubs are run by teachers or community members, take part on school grounds and fit in with the school curriculum. They provide children interested in the environment a chance to meet, learn, discuss and expand their knowledge of environmental issues. The activities are fun and engaging, managed in groups so they teach life skills too.

A fun part of the club is learning about the importance of trees. Students ‘meet a tree’ by feeling it whilst blindfolded, and then have to rely on senses other than sight, to try to identify their tree. This is an incredibly valuable part of the lesson for the participants, as they see the importance of practical learning. In school teams, participants draw a bird’s eye view map of their school, marking in important features such as classrooms and trees. In the reflection part of the lesson, participants trace and cut around their handprint, writing one important aspect about trees they remember from the lesson. From here, each school creates a tree-poster using their handprints as leaves.

This varied programme appeals to all types of learners, elevating nature’s importance alongside the man-made environment.

The Children in the Wilderness initiative is run in partnership with Peace Parks Foundation and Simalaha Community Conservancy, and with grateful thanks to MAVA Fondation pour La Nature, COmON Foundation, Global Development Group, and Resilient Waters for their generous donation to fund this project.