Children planting trees around lake Muhazi in Kayonza district, Western Province in Rwanda. Photo by Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association (RWCA)

The ‘One Child, One Tree’ project: creating children’s forests to promote social harmony and tackle climate change

The ‘One Child, One Tree’ (Mwana Tera Igiti) project has made great strides towards promoting social harmony and tackling climate change. ‘One Child, One Tree’ aims to improve children’s relationship with the natural environment; improve children’s psychosocial well-being; and strengthen children’s sense of belonging to their community. The project’s research aims were to evaluate the impact of children’s participation on their knowledge, perceptions, connectedness to nature, intrinsic aspirations, and psychosocial well-being; as well as to evaluate the engagement of key stakeholders including teachers, local administration officers, and children.

The project has already achieved several significant outputs, including the creation of two children’s forests in Kigali and Huye, the development of educational material including indigenous tree species booklets, and the collection of research data from over 500 children. The Minister of Environment, Miss Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, joined the tree planting celebration in Kigali and playfully discussed with the children the meaning of our slogan ‘Our nature, Our Heritage’. This helped to attract strong media attention with appearances on Rwanda National TV and radio, and in two leading journals in the country.

The impact of the ‘One Child, One Tree’ project has been evidenced through pre-post evaluation study findings. In line with our hypotheses, the findings of the study show a significant improvement in children’s psychosocial well-being, intrinsic aspirations, and connection to nature after participating in the ‘One Child, One Tree’ programme. In addition, more than half of the children reported to have dreamt about their tree in the past month and 80% of the children have encouraged other children to also plant a tree.

The future plans for the One Child, One Tree project are ambitious and far-reaching. The goal is to make planting trees by young children a global ritual that is adapted to local culture and context. If every child aged 6-7 years old is educated about the culture and biology of indigenous trees and gets to plant a tree in a child forest, we will create a generation of youth who have a lived experience of their connection to nature and to each other. In Rwanda, we continue to work with the Minister of Environment to make the initiative reach every Rwandan child.

Please join our movement and plant a ‘One Child One Tree’ forest in your community! It is not difficult. You can work with schools, religious groups, or other groups where children are educated. Our team in Rwanda can share learning materials and help you with engagement and logistics. Our dream is that, in the end, every child in the world will plant its own tree in a child forest in its community, thus connecting the child to all other children in the world through its connection with nature.

More information about the project

Key Themes:
Climate Action
Location: rwanda
Principal Investigator: Stefan Jansen
Co-Investigators: Beth Kaplin, Olivier Nsengimana, Myriam Mujawamariya, Mihigo Bonaventure, Romain Ndikumuzima
Host Organisation: University of Rwanda
Partners: Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association
Duration: 12 months

If you’d like to know more, you can contact the project Principal Investigator here.