Protecting Forests: Spreading the Story of Children Making a Difference“There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all of the life to be found around them in a real forest.” -Maria Montessori
Every Montessori classroom studies the spread of vegetation, the sun and the earth, the work of water, the work of air, and human and economic geography. The story of water and forests and human existence are intimately intertwined. We help our students become conscious of our role in appreciating and protecting the planet through exposure to each element’s important work. Let us join the rest of the world in discussing and experiencing the important work of forests on March 21st, International Day of Forests. Consider celebrating forests by telling the incredible story of how children founded what is now a 55,000 acre reserve to protect one of the most bio-diverse rainforest in the world: the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. (story below)
The Children’s Eternal Rainforest
(taken from Friends of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest)
In 1987, Swedish teacher Eha Kern and her young students in Fagervik, Sweden studied tropical rainforests. While enchanted by the amazing array of wildlife that the forest supported, the students became concerned after viewing a documentary that ended with disturbing images of the forest being burned and cleared.
Determined to help, they united with an American botanist and professor at Bates College of Lewiston, Maine, Dr. Sharon Kinsman, who was studying cloud forest ecology in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. Setting a goal of saving 25 acres, the students began fundraising efforts by putting on plays, having bunny-hopping contests, giving pony rides and selling home-baked goodies.
They made more money than they expected.
After a newspaper article was published about their efforts and a television report aired, children around the world began to participate in the creation of the Barnens Regnskog (Swedish for the Children’s Rain Forest). The Swedish government matched funds raised by the children and soon more than $100,000 had been raised.
Partnering with the Monteverde Conservation League, Dr. Kinsman helped spearhead the purchase of land in Costa Rica and founded a local chapter of the organization in the United States to engage American children in the process. The idea swept the world. Students in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Spain and Japan also created organizations to help. Eventually, children in 44 countries contributed.
Today, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest protects 55,000 acres of critical rainforest habitat and provides safe haven to the millions of species of animals and plants that are depended upon the forest for support. It is the largest private reserve in Central America.
Forest Guards have been hired to defend the forest from poachers, hunters, traders of endangered animals and plants and nature centers have been built to educate travelers about the forest’s wonders.
The Friends of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest continues the work begun by these visionary founders. Edmund Burke once said, “Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could only do a little.” Great change often comes in small steps, taken by individual people who are determined to make a difference.
Join the Montessori movement to continue the legacy of these children in protecting the Children’s Eternal Rainforest!
“Nearly 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests for their livelihood, food, fuel, shelter and medicine.” (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs)