The 2016 World School Championship in Reforestation brings together students from across the world to help counter the devastating effects of deforestation. It will do so by calling on schools across the globe to raise funds for 18 reforestation projects in four continents. The winning student team will not only have a chance to visit the country for which the reforestation funds were raised and help with the project itself, but it will also receive the “2016 Reforestation Award Medal”, a certificate from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Deforestation is a major concern, with over 4 million hectares of forests expected to be cut down this year, which is equivalent to 7 million football fields or the entire surface of Belgium[sc:1]. This is an alarming rate given that forests are carbon sinks and form part of our planet’s defence against climate change as well as providing a home to thousands of species. What is more, 29% of the earth’s oxygen is made in the Amazon forest and over 25% of the medicines we use today originate from rainforest plants[sc:1].
Doris Downes, who supports the World School Championship in Reforestation, believes that this project is about:
The World School Championship was founded in 2015 through the commitment and hard work of a small group of dedicated volunteers. The winner of that first reforestation challenge was a Swedish school from Fuengirola, Spain. The second place was held by a public school in Westchester County, New York. Even though the project has only been up and running for over a year, to date funds have been allocated to support the Association for Women Waorani of Ecuador not only to plant trees, but to structure the best use of their skills. In this case, the tribal women trained young adults in traditional handicraft skills of their local area so that they are discouraged from relying on deforestation as a primary source of income. We are also proud to announce the planting of 10,000 trees in Madagascar and the planting of many trees at a school in New Delhi, India.
The project is still being run primarily on the basis of the work of volunteers. But the team is looking for funding opportunities through public grants as well as business sponsorships. Business can also participate in deforestation activities. Students aged 12-16 and participating schools can help generate funds through the project ideas provided by the World School Championship organising team or any other activities approved and coordinated by their supervising teacher or school. In parallel, students and schools can make use of the lesson plans developed by the World School Championship on the importance of forests, the causes and impacts of deforestation and how reforestation can help provide a solution.
In the long term, the World School Championship for Reforestation aims to generate funds to expand its operations and build designated reforestation sites to reverse desertification in the Middle East and Africa.
This year’s winner will be announced in November 2016. To find out more about this project and options for supporting reforestation visit www.wscreforestation.org.