GNF - Trees for Life

Trees for Life



In co-operation with the Living Lakes partner organisation Wildlands Conservation Trust, the project was developed in the last four years. Since 2005, some parts of the protect were implemented successfully under the involvement of the local population. The focal points are the reforestation of indigenous trees inside of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (former Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park). Unemployed youths, orphans and single parents with their children are involved predominantly in the project. This target group, the so called “poorest of the poor”, are interested in environmental issues and also have a flair for entrepreneurship. With these measures of help to self-help, the people get new possibilities of income and education in the district Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Over the last three years, more than 1,350 people were educated as tree-preneuers by the Wildlands Conservation Trust. These tree-preneurs are organised in so called “Green Teams” and they are instructed in planting vegetation in rural regions. Further missions of the Green Teams are the progressive removal of alien plants as well as the collection of recyclable waste such as aluminium, bottles and paper in the townships.


This project provides new future prospects to the participants, increases their self-confidence and makes a valuabel contribution to the protection of environment and nature conservation in South Africa. 

Deliverables & accomplishments

A: Trees plantation

The Wildlands Conservation Trust was to plant at least 12.000 trees in degraded or threatened to erosion areas. These trees were planted at the Mkuze Floodplain Carbon Sink Project by local community landowners, and the trees were propagated by local Tree-preneurs from the KwaJobe community.


B: Environmental education for tree-preneurs

Wildlands was to take 1000 tree-preneurs (who qualified by growing a minimum number of trees) on a day trip to one of the many local environmental interpretive centers of the region to gain the impulsion to get involved with nature conservation. A further 300 tree-preneurs (were qualified by growing more trees) were to be taken on an overnight camping experience in a game/nature reserve. By the end of 2010 school holidays, 1000 tree-preneurs will have been taken on day trips and 300 tree-preneurs will have been taken on an overnight camping experience.


Green Heroes 

A Rewards programme (called "Green Heroes") was formally introduced into Wildlands Indigenous Trees for Life Programme in 2009 when a dedicated Environmental Education staff person was employed by Wildlands (namely Manqoba Sabela). Manqoba has organized and led all the tree-preneur excursions.


Environmental Education outings are arranged for tree-preneurs on the following basis:

A tree-preneur that grew more than 100 trees in a year qualified for a day outing. A tree-preneur that grew more than 250 trees in a year qualified for an overnight experience in a game or nature reserve.


A further category has been created, but these trips have not been implemented yet:

A tree-preneur that grows more than 500 trees in a year will qualify for a longer overnight experience (e.g. Wilderness Trail).

Tree-preneurs that qualified for the rewards trips were largely children, but there were adults as well. Each tree-preneur that went on a trip was issued with a "Green Heroes" t-shirt.


Day Trips

The range of environmental education activities took place at Enseleni Nature Reserve, Crocodile Centre, Mkhuze Game Reserve, Mlalazi Nature Reserve and Sea World. Topics that were taught include the following:

  • Trails interpretation
  • Exploring different ecosystems and their functions (e.g. riverine forest & grassland)
  • Game Reserve neighbours picture building game (this game addresses challenges that usually occur with reserves and surrounding communities. It provides guidance to overcoming those challenges).
  • Concept of the environment game (this game shows different parts of environment that are linked to human beings. It teaches about interdependency and improves team work and communication skills).
  • Profile of the Nile crocodile: physiology and conservation status.
  • Walk at the game park: exploring the grassland and forest and game viewing physiology and conservation status.
  • Introduction to protected areas & their importance 
  • Exploring mangroves and sand dunes



"I am very happy I had the opportunity to visit this reserve. I learned how animals survive, where they live and what types of food they eat. I also learned about how to use nature in a sustainable way. This was a very good trip."  Tree-preneur Sbongiseni Mhlongo (Mzimela community) – Enseleni Nature Reserve


"When it was time to leave I did not want to because I felt like there is still more to be learned. Drankensberg is very interesting we learned about different type of trees I even saw our national flower and Blue Crane (our national symbol bird). The trip was very informative I would like to have a trip again if possible but with more days to spend maybe a week. I had a lot of fun". Tree-preneur: Nikiwe Gcabashe (Buffelsdraai community)


Overnight trips

In addition to drives and guided walks, the overnight camping experiences included interpretive presentations and discussions about nature conservation. The range of environmental education activities that took place at Somkhanda Game Reserve, Cumberland Nature Reserve and False Bay Park (Isimangaliso Wetland Park).  Topics that were taught include the following:

  • Biodiversity lesson (slide show presentation)
  • Mammals lesson (slide presentation)
  • Game and birds identification at a water hole
  • Game viewing while driving
  • Symbiotic relationships and their importance in biodiversity ( work sheets)
  • Climate change lesson using picture building game
  • Water lesson using catchment areas picture building game
  • Story telling around camp fire
  • Exploring biodiversity on foot (recording life forms on a walk)



“The trip was very good; I enjoyed it since it was my first time. It feels great to see other places around our country. I also met many people during this trip which was good. The activity I enjoyed the most was at the river where we had to close our eyes and listen for different sounds after that we had to express our feelings. It was my first time to see wild animals like zebra, impala, wildebeest etc. This trip encouraged me as a teenager to look after our environment”. Tree-preneur: Nolulunga Mchunu, Cumberland Nature Reserve Trip


“I enjoyed the trip. I learned how trees are good to us. Being in my team was great. I will plant more trees than I have now so that I can learn more things around the world and also know more about animals and plants.”Tree-preneur: Ayanda Mazolo, Cumberland Nature Reserve Trip“I feel like a superstar and I am excited about this place. I am proud because it is my first time to be here. I want to come again because I had so much fun seeing animals. When I go back to school I want to tell my classmates and my teacher about my trip.”Tree-preneur: Winile Mazibuko, KwaJobe, Somkhanda Game Reserve trip



The „Green Heroes‟ rewards trips for tree-preneurs has proved an extremely successful and valuable tool for not only rewarding and further incentivizing tree propagation, but also exposing tree-preneurs to natural areas and reserves they would not normally have been able to experience. For many tree-preneurs, they were able to visit a reserve that was directly adjacent to the community they live in (e.g. Mkuze Game Reserve adjacent to KwaJobe and iSimangaliso Wetland Park adjacent to Khula). The activities facilitated by Wildlands educator play an important role in helping tree-preneurs to understand the wonders and complexities of the natural environment and man‟s role in relation to the sustaining the environment. It is recommended that the Rewards Programme continue and expand to be able to accommodate increasing number of tree-preneurs that are producing large volumes of trees.

In the frame of the campaign “Miles to Help” of the Lufthansa AG, air passengers had the possibility to donate their miles to this Living Lakes project. The Foundation Ursula Merz also supported the project measures. Additionally, the project was supported by private donators in the framework of a tree patronage.


Further information about the St. Lucia Lake and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is available on our webpage.

 Coral tree seeds.
 Irrigation of the plants.
 Products for the plants.
 Jabu Myeni - one of the first landowners who planted trees on her property.
 Trip to Cumberland in May 2010.
 Tree preneurs
 Group in Cumberland
 Looking at the octapus.
 Watching a dolphin show.

Official Project Titel:


Project Period:


Project Countries:


Project Supporters:



Project Partner:

"Trees for Life" in South Africa


2005 - 2012


South Africa


Deutsche Lufthansa "Miles to Help", Foundation Ursula Merz (until December 2011)


Wildlands Conservation Trust