Nepal was once a widely forested nation. However, human actions and climate change have caused massive deforestation over the past 30 years, and as the agricultural and forestry sector contributes significantly to the national economy, deforestation has slowed down economic growth.
The government has tried ‘community forestry’ activities, but the most popular and successful attempts to remedy deforestation have been private planting. This is why Middle Years Programme (MYP) and IB Diploma Programme (DP) students at Dwight School London, UK, have created The Reforestation Project, in partnership with students in Nepal. They aim to plant at least 2,000 trees by 2020.
“The project shares the need for future decision makers to develop an awareness of environmental issues, and foster a strong sense of responsibility towards global climate change,” says Amita Sen, Head of Personalized Learning at Dwight School London.
To date, the students have planted 50 trees. Dwight School London created partnerships with schools in Nepal through the Friends of the Zoo association (operated by the National Trust for Nature Conservation – Central Zoo). This organization has over 200 Nepalese schools involved in environmental and conservation efforts.
Sen adds: “In addition to climatic benefits, reforestation has the potential to preserve endangered species. A recovering forest restores habitat loss and degradation, which threaten the health of species. This scenario is not only common to Nepal, but many parts of the world where poverty, unstable governments and illiteracy are rampant.”
Some students had the chance to meet face-to-face in June 2019. Five students from five different Nepalese schools visited Dwight School London. They attempted to tackle climate change and air quality in London by building a vertical garden (a space to grow flowers and herbs) in Dwight London’s Upper School’s Spahn Campus. The vertical garden, which will be made from recycled plastic bottles, is modelled on the garden in Gyanodaya School in Kathmandu, which Dwight School London students visited in 2018.
“It was clear from our interaction with Nepalese students that when tangible motivation is combined, student understanding of the need to play a part in addressing the current world climatic situation was possible. This experience was certainly more than what books could ever teach them,” adds Sen.