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Environmental Ambassadors of Mafia Island Heading to Sweden for Volvo Adventure Awards 2012

Congratulations to the students from the Kitomondo Secondary School on Mafia Island who have been selected to represent Tanzania at the Volvo Adventure Awards for Young Environmental Leaders in Gothenburg, Sweden from June 1-6, 2012.

The Environmental Ambassadors of Mafia Island are a group of students from the Kitomondo School on Mafia Island in Tanzania. This enthusiastic group have been participating in an environmental education programme initiated by Frontier’s Tanzania Marine staff since November. Frontier has worked closely with the Kitomondo School to set up an environmental education programme which gets the students examine the impacts of human activity on the marine environment.

Mafia Island, which lies just off the coast of Tanzania, is considered to be one of the major biodiversity hotspots of the Indian Ocean and is home to a unique wildlife. However Mafia’s biodiversity faces pressures from human activities such as overfishing and habitat destruction and as such the work carried out by the Environmental Ambassadors is extremely important in terms of conservation. Frontier has been training the group of students to become ‘Environmental Ambassadors’ equipping them with conservation skills that will enable them to educate their peers about environmental issues on Mafia in order to mitigate the threats they are facing. Kitomondo Secondary School’s Environmental Ambassadors have been working hard to change people’s perceptions and give pride to local communities about the richness of their environment. 

Following their sterling work, Frontier’s Principle Investigator Owen Jones out in Tanzania, nominated the youth group for the Volvo Young Environmental Leader Award as part of the Volvo Adventure Awards. The Volvo Adventure Awards is run in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme and was set up as an educational programme which rewards environmental activities and the decision-makers of the future. The awards are open to 13 to 16 year olds around the world who are undertaking an environmental project in their local communities. 

Then the great news came in that the group of environmental ambassadors from Mafia Island had been chosen as one of ten finalists and were invited to the awards that will be hosted in Sweden in June. As finalists the group of students will be flown to Sweden to participate in a series of workshops before presenting their project to the panel – after which the final winners will be decided. If the Environmental Ambassadors are chosen as one of the top three projects in June they will receive funding for their project. 

The Frontier Team out in Tanzania and the staff at the Kitomondo School are busy getting ready for the trip to Sweden in June. The Awards will be attended by six students from the school as well as a member of Frontier staff from the Tanzania Marine Project and a staff member from the Kitomondo School. It’s going to be a very exciting trip for all involved, and the environmental ambassadors will get to compete against students from all over the world.

Frontier’s Overseas Operations Officer Heather Burgess remarked “everyone here at Frontier is so proud of the students from Kitomondo School and the work that they’ve been doing is truly deserving of this recognition. This is an absolutely fantastic opportunity for the children and we’ve all got our fingers crossed for them for the next round, best of luck!.” 

To find out about all the work Mafia Island’s Environmental Ambassadors have been carrying out check out the Volvo Adventure Awards website. For more information on opportunities to volunteer abroad, to volunteer in Tanzania and many other amazing locations, please visit the Frontier website.

 By Hannah Jones

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