Sebastian Chuwa is a man with a vision for his country, his people, and the future generations who will inherit their legacy. For 30 years he has been actively studying environmental problems in his east African homeland of Tanzania and the solutions he has found offer results that benefit not only the land, but all the populations that depend on it for life and sustenance. His methods are based on the two primary objectives of community activism – organizing people to address their problems at a local level, and youth education – influencing the teaching of conservation in schools, beginning at the primary level … (full text).
Sebastian’s interests not only lie with his botanical studies, Seba has a wide and in depth knowledge of his countries natural history and ethnic culture accompanied with a charming personality … (full text).
Video: Sebastian Chuwa Wins Top Arbor Day Award, 9.47 min, added June 8, 2007.
Sebastian Chuwa – Tanzania
The blog: Africa Unchained, on Sebastian Chuwa, the tree planter.
When Sebastian Chuwa left his childhood home on the southern slope of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro 30 years ago to work as a conservator at the Ngorongoro Crater, he couldn’t have predicted that he would one day be back on the legendary mountain, helping both Kilimanjaro and its people. And yet, since 1991, that’s exactly what he has been doing. The million-plus residents of the agricultural area surrounding Africa’s tallest peak have for centuries relied on the mountain’s generous rainy seasons and glaciers, but severe climate change has led to decreased rainfall and a receding glacial cap … (full text).
Chuwa has achieved his success in replanting largely by using Tanzania’s national tree, the African blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) as a flagship species in the fight against deforestation. Usually referred to by its Swahili name, mpingo, this remarkable tree once dotted the entire African dry savannah. Today it is estimated that less than three million mpingo trees remain, with most stands confined to Tanzania and Mozambique … (full text).
… Sebastian’s interest in botany led him to discover a completely new plant species in the Ngorongoro Highlands, and this has been named after him. He has also been nominated for the prestigious Rolex Award for his work in propagating indigenous tree species on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. In February 2002 the Olympic Committee honoured his conservation efforts by presenting him with the Spirit of the Land Award in person during a visit to Salt Lake City, USA … (full text).
An estimated 20,000 African Blackwood (Mpingo) trees are harvested for commercial purposes each year. The wood is used by artists in carvings; to make some woodwind instruments; and it also provides a valuable economic resource for Tanzania, one of the poorest countries in the world … (full text).
At Mweka Primary School in Tanzania, pupils are required to provide firewood in order to cook their lunches. They have learnt from Associate Laureate Sebastian Chuwa that they must also plant trees to replenish what they consume … (from a picture legende on rolexawards.com).
press release: CHUWA, the man behind MPINGO project.
Offices and Awards:
- June, 2007: Sebastian receives the J. Sterling Morton Award, the highest yearly award of /the Arbor Day Foundation, presented during ceremonies in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Bette and James traveled to Nebraska City for the awards ceremony and to spend several days with him consulting about the future direction of the project.
- November, 2006: Sebastian is chosen as one of 3 international environmentalists for a World Savers Award, presented by Conde Nast Traveler magazine to “an unsung few who are fighting to safeguard some of the globe’s most spectacular destinations, which for these heroes also happen to be home.” The award was given to honor his work for the conservation of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
- November, 2002: Sebastian is the recipient of an Associate Laureate Award from the Rolex Awards for Enterprise committee. In ceremonies held in London, England, he was presented with a gold Rolex watch and a cash award. This funding has served to expand the work of the ABCP, enabling it to greatly enlarge the ABCP mpingo nursery and affording Sebastian the means to purchase an all-season 4wd vehicle.
- February, 2002: During Olympic ceremonies at Salt Lake City, Sebastian receives The Spirit of the Land award, presented to 10 US and 5 international conservationists who had made outstanding contributions in the field of environmental education. This was his first trip to the US and, in addition to traveling to the Olympics, he visited with friends and co-workers in California, North Carolina and Texas. He spent several days visiting with James Harris and Bette Stockbauer at their home near Red Rock, Texas.
- October, 2000: Sebastian is elected to political office as Councilor of his ward of Kibosho East. This position gives him a voice in local and central government and facilitates his efforts to coordinate and encourage various environmental initiatives and tree planting campaigns.
- 1999: Sebastian is appointed Chairman of the Kilimanjaro Environmental Conservation Management Trust Fund by the Regional Government Authority of Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania. This office automatically makes him a member of the Regional Environmental Conservation Committee. His valuable contributions to environmental conservation will be amplified through this position …
… (see all on blackwood conservation.org, scroll down).
He has founded 48 conservation Malehai Clubs (Swahili for “health” and “alive” and pronounced “mali-high”) in schools with an average membership of 300. Each club has a tree nursery where various native trees are nurtured. The clubs have a dual function; they are sports clubs as well as conservation clubs, so provide members with a healthy social life as well as a practical channel for conserving natural resources. Every year the Malehai Clubs replant thousands of trees and we will be contributing to this effort … (full text).
Such a ‘wise use’ philosophy, as the work of Sebastian Chuwa and his community on Mt. Kilimanjaro demonstrate, is obviously the key element in any approach to conservation of threatened species in today’s world. The impact of humanity upon nature is significant and proper planning must be initiated if there is to be any hope for a balanced world ecosystem in this century. Sebastian will do all the work in the field for this project and all he asks from the larger world community is minimal support to build a more focused and efficient conservation effort. His altruism is commendable and he deserves the support of everyone who directly or indirectly benefits from the special tree he is dedicated to preserve. Ornamental turners, knife manufacturers, woodwind instrument makers and collectors of Makonde sculpture are direct beneficiaries of the unique wood called mpingo. But in a broader sense, the whole world benefits from this tree.
Two of the highest achievements of human creativity and culture – music and art – are universal, and mpingo plays an irreplaceable, though little-recognized role, in their expression. (blackwood conservation.org, scroll down).
An ABCP Video: “The Conservation and Environmental Education Work of Sebastian Chuwa“, 45 min (has to be bought).
The Mpingo conservation project and its partner organisations;
List of Planet Savers (until today with 301 names);
Newsletter of Science direct (2006);
Primates of Mahale, by wilderness travel;
Tree of Music: The Mpingo Pingo Tree By Oona’o Haynes, 56 pages, 2006;
EIS news, June 2007;
IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 112, covering the period 23 Feb – 01 Mar 2002;
the book: Serengeti II: Dynamics, Management, and Conservation of an Ecosystem, by Anthony Ronald,
673 pages, 1995.
ROLEX hails winners of international awards, Five laureates recognized for their pioneering projects.