19 September 2007

Gambia: School Tree Nursery Competition Gears Up

School children across the country are getting their hands dirty in qhelping to save the environment. From Kombo to the URD, school children are busy growing trees in their school nurseries preparing for the Gambia All Schools Tree Nursery Competition.

The Gambia All Schools Tree Nursery Competition is a collaborative project between the National Environment Agency (NEA), the Department of State for Education, the Department of State for Forestry, and the United States Peace Corps. The Aim of the competition is for the students to learn about the negative effects of deforestation and the ways reforestation improves their own livelihoods. The project also targets to protect and improve the Gambian Environment by introducing the concepts of tree nursery management techniques to all schools through environmental education.

The purpose of this school environment competition is to promote a healthier environment through education and tree planting. Participating schools built a nursery in which they plant as many numbers and species of tree seedlings as possible. The seedlings are then sold, to raise money for the school, or out planted in the community woodlot, parks, reserves and or orchards.

According to the coordinating committee, the schools are judged twice, first on their success at building a nursery filled with healthy tree seedlings, and secondly on their success at selling and out planting the seedlings. The first judging was completed in June. Of the 80 schools competing in the Gambia, Saruja Lower Basic in the Central River Region is in the lead. The students have grown over 9,000 seedlings consisting of 75 different species. They have won the competition in previous years, but with hard work any of this year's competing schools could win.

Sarah Lee, US Peace Corps Volunteer who is co-coordinating the project, said over 42,000 seedlings was nursed and out planted last year. The winning schools received number of materials including tree nursery management and gardening tools. Prizes and certificates in recognition of achievement will be awarded after the final judging in September to the winners in each division. Now is the time to double your efforts.

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