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Displaying items by tag: event how to make simple changes towards an eco-friendly lifestyle? Have you wondered where to buy your organic food and goods locally? Or how to be more energy efficient? Do you know what is recyclable in Belgium? We do - or we know someone who does! This site is intended to be an information rescource and focal point for ecologically minded people living in and around Brussels. Please revisit the site often, because we update it on a regular basis. Sun, 26 Mar 2017 22:51:43 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Tree Planting Event 2012 - All you need to know Tree Planting Event 2012 - All you need to know

Join us at our next tree planting event on 18 March 2012 - from 10.00 to 16.00 - in the Forêt de Soignes / Zoniënwoud which will be dedicated to Wangari Maathai. Check out this list of frequently asked questions and watch out for updates on this website, on our Facebook page and in our newsletter

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Have a look at a speciment of the gift certificate.


site conditions: Whilst we are expecting nice weather on the day, please note that this is a forest site with muddy and uneven conditions, we advise you to dress appropriately.

transport: for those wishing to use public transport, there will be a shuttle bus running between Boisfort train station and the planting site between 12.00 and 15.00. The shuttle, kindly provided by the International Montessori School, will run about every 30 minutes, approximately on the hour and half hour. If you plan to use the shuttle or would like more details please contact us

Frequently asked questions

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sunbeams is proud to co-operate with the United Nations Environment  Programme's Billion Tree Campaign.
plant trees with us to reduce your carbon footprint

1. What is Sunbeams?

Sunbeams is a non-profit organization focused on bringing expatriates and Belgians together on nature and the environment. We are an international group of enthusiastic volunteers that provide practical-oriented information on an eco-friendly lifestyle to expats living in Belgium. We write articles, make presentations, conduct workshops and organize events.

2. What is ANB?

ANB (Agentschap voor Natuur en Bos), the Flemish governmental agency dealing with forests. They take care of the permission to turn a plot of land into a forest, prepare the ground and work with local forest rangers to select the appropriate species to be planted. They do a lot of activities on trees, publish a magazine and are very active in the UN Billion Tree Campaign.

3. What is the UNEP Billion Tree Campaign?

On 8 November 2006, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the new campaign 'Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign' which encourages all sectors of society to plant at least one billion trees worldwide each year. In a call to further action, the UNEP set a new goal of planting14 billion trees.. Every individual or organization is encouraged to register their pledges and planted trees online while ensuring that the trees planted are indigenous and appropriate for the local environment.

4. How do I register my pledges and trees with the UN billion tree campagin?

You don't need to worry about registering your trees. Sunbeams will register all of the pledges and trees on your behalf. This way we can insure that every tree is counted, but not counted twice.

5. Where can I find more information on the Billion Tree Campaign?

The UNEP has created a wonderful website that can provide you with further information regarding the campaign.

6. How much does it cost to plant a tree?

The cost to plant one indigenous tree is 5 euros. This price not only covers the tree, but includes the organization of the event, the land preparation including pre-dug holes, the tools needed to plant the tree(s), a biodegradable ribbon upon which to write your own 'special message' and a sticker identifying your participation and commitment to the environment. You will receive your sticker and ribbon(s) the day of the event (if you have not received them prior). Part of your contribution will go to a tree planting campaign of the Jane Goodall Institute in Congo (Africa). Last year we raised money to plant 1100 trees in Africa. For more info click here

7. Does all the money raised go to planting trees at this event?

Yes, the money collected from your school will be used entirely to plant the trees. Any surplus from the Belgian tree planting will be donated to the tree planting operation of JGI Congo, where it will be used to plant trees connecting two nature reserves for the wildlife to migrate between the two reserves. There will be no profit or fee for Sunbeams, ANB or the UNEP. 

8. Can I donate without attending the event on 18 March?

Yes. You do not have to be present at the event to 'plant a tree'. However, we do encourage everyone that is interested to join us that day.

9. Can I plant more than one tree?

Absolutely! It is perfectly feasible for a person to plant 10-20 trees at the event. All the holes will be predug, so it should not take a long time to plant one tree. If you or your children would get too tired to plant all of them, we will help you to plant the remaining trees by the end of the day.

10. Do you have a system in place for the fundraising?

We propose the use of our pledge sheet which will be available on our website. This allows not only the students/yourself to participate, but also family and friends that may be interested to sponsor trees.

11. How can we give students a feeling of ownership of their tree?

We suggest to use our downloadable saving cards. These cards will allow the children to "earn" their own tree in 5 steps.

12. What are the saving cards used for?

These could be used by the children at home, where the parents can agree upon some chores with them. They are not obligatory, but just a tool we offer. It can also be use for students not wishing to use the pledge sheets, but wanting to raise the money themselves. We would like the children to keep their saving cards and bring them to the event with their name on it: we will attached them to a big board and make a nice picture of it.

13. Can we contact Sunbeams for fundraising ideas at our school?

Yes you can! If after having read questions 9 -12you have need for further assistance, please feel free to contact us and we will do what we can to help.

14. Could Sunbeams make a presentation at our school/university/organization ?

Yes, we can! We did this in the past and talk about Wangari Maathai, the UN billion tree campaign, the tree planting event, the fundraising part and – if requested – we dress up as trees. Schools which had a Sunbeams presentation in the past are invited to give some of their students a leader role and make presentations in other classes.

15. Who was Wangari Maathai and why is the tree planting event dedicated to her?

Professor Wangari Maathai was the founder of Kenya's Green Belt Movement, which has planted more than 30 million trees in 12 African countries since 1977. She inspired the UN billion tree campaign. The first tree planted at the first Sunbeams forest in 2010 was dedicated to her. This time, in March 2012 the Sunbeams tree planting event will be dedicated to her.

16. What is the deadline for receiving pledges and the money transfer?

We wil accept pledges until all trees are sold. Pledges can be paid by bank transfer (see 18. below) until Wednesday 13 March, after that date please bring proof of payment, or cash. 
If trees are stil available we will however take donations up to the day of the event.

17. How is the money collected?

We ask you kindly to make a bank transfer to the Sunbeams account mentioning your name and amount of trees. We ask that schools have a designated person or system in place to collect the money for the entireschool/class(es). Once all pledges have been received, we kindly ask that you send us one amount on behalf of the entire school.

18. What is the Sunbeams account number?

Our account is with Triodos bank: 523-0803235-53. Please clearly mention the Tree Planting Event AND full name of yourself, your organization/school when you do the transfer.

19. What if someone is uncomfortable with giving cash or is giving a larger donation?

We then ask that they contact us directly at We can then give them the information necessary to make their own deposit.

20. Are there age restrictions to planting a tree?

Anyone over the age of 5 years is welcome to plant their own tree after a short demonstration on the appropriate way to do it. After the event a park ranger will then 'double check' all of the planted trees. Children below the age of 5 can plant a tree with the help of an adult.

21. Will you provide education materials or a presentation to the students prior to the event?

As a prize to the first 10 schools that commit to participate at the event, we, along with ANB, will come to the school and put on an educational and funny presentation on the types of trees that will be planted as well as their importance to the environment. If you are among the first to commit, you will be notified as soon as possible and an appointment for our visit in February will be made.

site mapthumb22. Where is the forest going to be planted?

This year the forest will be planted in the Forêt de Soignes/Zoniënwoud on the outskirts of Brussels, close to the castle of Groenendaal, Hoeilaert. Click here to see the location

23. Is transportation to and from the event provided?

We are working on the logistics of transportation. We will organize a bus leaving from from Molenbeek (exact time and place to be confirmed) and a shuttle bus will operate between Boisfort train station and the tree planting site between 12h00 and 15h00.  

24. How was the location chosen?

This location was chosen specifically for sunbeans by our partner ANB.

25. What do we need to bring to the event?

All of the tools needed to plant your tree(s) will be provided for you. You just need to wear comfortable and appropriate outdoor clothing suitable for getting a little dirty. Wellington boots or water tight boots are recommended. You are most welcome to bring some foldable chairs or tables to have your picnic or little party.

26. Will food be provided?

Organic soup will be provided free by You are also welcome to bring your own picnic to enjoy beside your tree.

27. How will we know where to plant our trees?

We will have volunteers present to direct you. The plot of land will be divided into sections: free planting areas and sections for your school/organization/company.

28. What is the best time for our school to come to the event?

Please contact to find the most suitable time for your school to meet there. The forest association would like us to group the schools in order to be able to guide groups of 20 children at a time to actually plant the trees. It will also make it easier for parents to find the school at the event and to meet up with other parents.

29. How will the students remain safe?

As we are a small organization and do not have the volunteer capacity to look after every section, we ask that the school provides supervision over their designated space. Whether this be teachers or parents is at the school's discretion.

30. How do I receive more information about the event?

Check back here for all the latest information. Please feel free to contact us at with any specific questions you may have

Register button_green

Articles Fri, 03 Feb 2012 08:56:00 +0000
Car-Less For a Day Car-Less For a Day

For those of us who live along Brussels' busy streets and its neighboring cities, Sunday, 18 September, began in a rather unusual way. Rather than waking to honking car horns or halting brakes, Brussels residents were greeted with quiet. If there was any noise to be heard, it was not from the typical cacophony of screeching engines and rattling old mufflers, but from the joyous notes of laughter shared by cycling families.

The reason for this unusually quiet morning? the 11th annual Car-Free Sunday in Brussels. Between the hours of 9:00 and 19:00, all engine traffic was brought to a halt (with the exception of public transportation, which was free for the day!) and every major roadway in Brussels was closed. Instead of grabbing their car keys, Brussels residents snapped on their helmets for a day on the town. People of all ages were out and about, partaking in the various festivities throughout the city and filling the streets with exhaust-free energy. Cyclists certainly capitalized on the opportunity to own the road, bringing Avenue Louise to maximum capacity with their two-wheeled vehicles. Indeed, Sunday, the 18th of September, proved to be a success!

In holding its Car-Free Day (CFD), Brussels joined a network of cities around the world, that also designate one day in a year to pollution-free travel. Starting in Bogota, Colombia, CFDs are meant to encourage the reduction of environmental emissions, foster the development of closer communities, where jobs and shops are within walking distance, and get citizens out on their feet (or bikes!). While planners realize that only one CFD day a year will not make much of a dent in the environment's bill of health, they do hope that it will create awareness about the benefits of living in a city with less car traffic.

For European cities, CFDs are part of the European Mobility Week campaign. This campaign aims to fight atmospheric and noise pollution, but it also hopes to contribute to the improvement of the quality of urban life. Car-Free Days are supposed to function as massive experiments that tempt city dwellers into considering what their locality would be like with fewer cars on the road. It also gives city planners a unique opportunity to test out their new transportation ideas and present them to citizens.

While Brussels residents seem to love CFDs, based on the high levels of participation, the effects of this day do not seem to last longer than 24 hours. Despite holding CFDs since 2000, the city still has seen limited progress in reducing carbon emissions and was given an F-grade in reducing 'soot emissions' this year. Additionally, TomTom, your friendly navigation device, has dubbed Brussels the most congested European city in 2011, due to its numerous blockages.

Clearly, there is a need for more commitment from the average Brussels resident to make this once-a-year event an everyday reality. We all need to show our support for a less congested city, by individually rethinking our transportation choices. While undoubtedly, there are times when we all say 'it is just so much more convenient to drive', this mentality quickly vanishes when we are locked in traffic and a cyclist goes whizzing by, sure to make it home in time for dinner. Also, this cyclist is getting exercise and spending zero Euros on daily commute (besides on the odd power bar), what about us? So, is it really so convenient to drive? From personal experience, having decided not to use a car for the past year, I must say it has been a lot less stressful to rely on public transportation than my own driving abilities.

This article was originally published in the October 2011 edition of the Sunbeams Newsletter.

Articles Wed, 05 Oct 2011 08:11:04 +0000
Volunteers’ Day Out in Molenbeek’-day-out-in-molenbeek’-day-out-in-molenbeek Volunteers’ Day Out in Molenbeek

Last September 8, Sunbeams, in collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute of Belgium and the Commune of Molenbeek, and with the support of a grant from Levi Strauss & Co., organized the Levi's Team Day. Several excited volunteers attended the event and spent the entire day cleaning up a park in Molenbeek, Brussels. It was a very typical Belgian day with lots of rain and a chill in the air, but the Levi's people showed up, ready to rock. They strapped on their gardening gloves and split into two groups for the cleanup. One group was in charge of clearing as much Japanese Nut Weed (a poisonous plant found growing on the property) as possible. While the other group, led by Sunbeams founder and president, Ilke, helped to improve the park by building an herb spiral.

As the sky started to clear up, the groups parted ways around 10:30am. The first group, those who would be weeding and cleaning, were given a brief educational tour of the grounds before getting down to business. The guide explained that Molenbeek has become infested with Japanese Nut Weed whose poisonous roots spread to the soil and kill all wildlife in its path. The Levi's volunteers were taught how to remove the plant from the ground by getting down on their knees and pulling at the very bottom of the stem. In some cases, roots of up to six inches were attached to the weed. The volunteers were first brought to a clearing where a tarp had been placed under the soil to prevent the weed from growing; nonetheless, growths emerged. The volunteers were asked to remove these determined plants that made their way through the tarp. The Levi's team worked quietly and diligently. They were occasionally making jokes, but they were truly focused on removing as much of the weed as possible. With the efforts of ten Levi's volunteers, the area was cleared in less than an hour.

Clearing the 'tarped' area of Molenbeek was not only important, but also served as a learning opportunity for the volunteers. They had become acquainted with the plant's appearance and they learned to properly remove the entire root from the ground. The guide looked very pleased with their work. After a brief water break, they were ready for the next level. The guide brought the group to an area that looked as if the Japanese Nut Weed had been growing for months; however, they soon learned that this area had been cleared a mere five weeks prior!

The Nut Weed had nearly destroyed an entire garden. Astonished and a bit dismayed, the Levi's volunteers looked at each other as if to say, "Let's do this!" They strapped on their gardening gloves once more and worked even faster than before. Their speed and determination was extremely admirable. One woman looked around quite surprised as she explained, "I have lived in Brussels for 12 years and I didn't even know this place existed. All this green space in the middle of the city! I hope they can keep it. I always go to the City Park but this place is so much more important." A young girl listening chimed in, "Yes it's very important for wildlife, and the animals that live here all have a function, even the spiders, because they eat the insects."

To emphasize the importance of each and every animal and insect living in Molenbeek, Ilke led the second group to an area where they would be building the herb spiral. The spiral will provide wildlife in Molenbeek with proper shelter. There are shelters for solitary bees and bumblebees, both very important for pollination, as well as homes for hedgehogs, earwigs, ladybugs and different types of amphibians. The herb spiral provides food and water for these creatures, as well as, many other species. Furthermore, nearly all of the herbs are edible for humans, too! There will be wild strawberries growing that children may pick and eat.

To build the spiral, the volunteers worked together to place large pieces of slate in the proper shape. The spiral was then filled with soil and many different types of herbs were planted (see photo). This was not easy work but the Levi's team kept the mood light and stayed positive. They were having fun! Everyone laughed as one man said to another, "You know, I don't mind this kind of work because there's no one bitching at us!" The building of the herb spiral was quite incredible to watch. Each volunteer brought a different set of personal skills and as a group, the volunteers worked together to make the spiral as perfect as possible. Everything was thought through and double-checked, all the way down to the placement of each herb in the soil and the arrangement of the fence around the completed spiral.

In just one day, the Levi Strauss volunteer team made vast improvements in Molenbeek. They took down almost an entire field of poisonous weeds and on top of that, built a structure that will be a beautiful addition to the land. Best of all, they had a great time doing it! Thanks to the grant from Levi Strauss & Co, a small team of just over 20 people was able to take one day out of their lives to help protect our environment. Imagine the difference we could make if everyone chose to help out a little each day. And remember, this kind of work is not only fulfilling but, as the volunteers proved, it can also be very fun!

Articles Wed, 05 Oct 2011 08:08:45 +0000
Slovenian embassy to celebrate 20 years of country's independence by planting trees with sunbeams Slovenian embassy to celebrate 20 years of country's independence by planting trees with sunbeams

This year the Republic of Slovenia is celebrating its 20th anniversary of independence. To commemorate this, as well as the International Year of Forests, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, and to help greening our Planet, the Embassy of Slovenia will join us at the tree planting event on Sunday, the 20th of March 2011 in Oetingen, 20 km west of Brussels.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia in Belgium, the embassy staff, and Slovenians living in Belgium will plant 20 linden trees (tilia europaea). In Slovenia, the linden tree has been considered much more than a renewable natural resource. From time immemorial, it has been regarded as a national symbol due to its special role. To this day, many a Slovenian village still clusters around an ancient linden tree, and for a good reason. Throughout history, the tree has served as a social and political center of the village. To its inhabitants it symbolized the "tree of life".


Positive news Tue, 01 Mar 2011 13:00:23 +0000
Workshop “Eco-friendly habits for healthy children”“eco-friendly-habits-for-healthy-children”“eco-friendly-habits-for-healthy-children” Workshop “Eco-friendly habits for healthy children”

Wednesday, 02 March 2011, 09:15 - 10:30

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” and other tips for naturally healthy and happy kids

At Savoorke, International Montessori School, Bergestraat 24, 3080 Tervuren.

Register at: by Monday, February 28, 2011!

Articles Sun, 20 Feb 2011 20:49:35 +0000
Plant for the Planet in Belgium! Plant for the Planet in Belgium!

This year is the International Year of Forests. Forests are home to millions of people and they sustain the livelihoods of millions more. They are essential to life on the Planet. Sadly, forest areas continue to decline. You can do your share, though, by helping plant a forest in Belgium - and in Congo.

International Year of the Forest UNFF

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests, to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.

The impact of planting trees can be felt globally and locally. The United Nations claims that globally, forests are home to 300 million people and 80% of our biodiversity. As well as providing shelter, forests help purify both our water and air. They sustain the livelihoods of millions. Without forests, life on our planet would cease to exist in its present form. Thus, it is disheartening to see that despite the many trees planted by the Billion Tree Campaign, worldwide, the amount of forest area is still declining. In Belgium, for instance, the balance for 2009 was negative, with Flanders losing 90 hectares of forests.

However, many organizations, both local and global, have committed themselves to helping restore the natural equilibrium of our ecosystems, starting with trees.

Sunbeams tree planting event

Sunbeams wanted to take local action and invited people of all ages and backgrounds to plant for the Planet in Belgium. In March 2010, about 600 people from all over Belgium gathered in a wet and barren meadow. In less than one day, that empty meadow was transformed into a forest. A baby forest, to be sure, but one with the potential to grow and flourish, to nurture and protect, to shelter and feed for decades to come.

To make this possible, Sunbeams partnered with a Belgian forest association (Vereniging voor Bos in Vlaanderen) to provide technical expertise, and help with obtaining legal permission to plant a forest. With this event, Sunbeams wanted to bring together Belgians and expats from the greater Brussels area. Both Belgians and expats demonstrated that when it comes to the environment, they stand in solidarity. Last year’s participants proved that the two communities understand that a forest planted in one country benefits the whole planet, not only the region it is growing in. The event was sponsored by the Belgian King Baudouin Foundation. In addition, all trees were registered on the Billion Tree Campaign of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Due to the success of this initiative, Sunbeams will host another Tree Planting Event on Sunday, the 20th of March 2011 in Gooik, 20 km west of Brussels. Everyone and all are welcome to come and join us. For those who are unable to attend, why not consider making a donation - for every five euros donated, a tree will be planted in Gooik and a contribution will be made to the planting of a forest corridor in the Congo.

African project

This year, the Sunbeams tree planting event will make a global connection by partnering with Congolese youth who are planting a forest in their home country. The group is part of the global Jane Goodall’s Roots&Shoots movement. This particular Roots&Shoots group in Congo wants to make a green corridor between two rainforests to ameliorate the migratory patterns of local fauna - including chimpanzees. They are planting indigenous fruit trees to attract the chimpanzees and at the same time, are learning about local wildlife and conservation. Resident adults trained by the Jane Goodall Institute work as eco-guards to protect the trees and wildlife in this corridor. For every tree planted with Sunbeams in Belgium, an amount will go to trees for this inspiring African endeavour.

Practical information

On 20 March 2011, you can join Sunbeams to plant trees or donate trees to be planted for you that day. All ages can participate in planting the saplings - of 1 meter high - although the younger children may need a little help. The holes are pre-dug and demonstrations on how to plant will be given on site. One tree costs 5 euros and registrations and pledges can be made through our website. There, you can also find a map, a list of Frequently Asked Questions, practical information on transportation and pictures and quotes from last year’s event in the special newsletter. The information on the website will be updated regularly. If you want to participate as an organization, school, or company and reserve a plot of land please feel free to contact Sunbeams. You can also sponsor underprivileged children to participate and plant trees for you. For any further details, please contact Leanne.

This article was originally published in the November 2010 issue of the Sunbeams Newsletter.

Articles Tue, 01 Feb 2011 20:41:46 +0000
Dr. Jane in Brussels Dr. Jane in Brussels

What does the war in Congo, the chimpanzees, your mobile phone and your daily life have to do with one other? It was this strong and convincing holistic message of inter-connectedness which impressed me the most after hearing Dr. Jane Goodall speak in front of a full auditorium at the Free University of Brussels last 22 November 2010.

Dr. Jane Goodall spent most of her life observing the behaviour of chimpanzees in the rainforest and became world famous for her findings. After 26 years of research, she realized that she would need to leave the forest in order to save them. Flying over the Gombe Reserve with barren deforested hills, hearing of the alarming rates of increased trade in bush meat, seeing the war coming closer and witnessing the poverty of people living around the reserve: she knew that if she did not act, the survival of the chimpanzees as a species would become critical.

She started a development cooperation program around the reserve (TACARE) – supporting the local people and respecting the environment and animals living around them, a model which is now spreading over neighbouring countries. The grass roots model is a holistic one: e.g. they (re-)plant trees, train forest rangers, set up micro-credit programs, cultivate shade-grown organic coffee, provide reproductive health care, and school education for girls and boys.

She then became an activist, and up to this day, at the age of 76, she travels around the world 300 days a year, showing the link between our own actions as human beings (regardless of where we live on this planet), and the survival of other species, like the chimpanzees. She talks with a very clear and simple language: no fancy abbreviations, scientific terminology or concepts. This incredible, down-to-earth woman leaves no audience untouched. She speaks from the heart and combines it with her scientific knowledge and practical mind: a standing ovation is what she gets wherever she speaks. People of all ages, of all cultural or economic backgrounds, understand her message of peace and hope. She gives us courage and shows that every single individual can do something - here and right now - and that it actually can make a difference. Her latest book filled with stories of courageous individuals saving species from the brink of extinction, “Hope for Animals and Their World,” gives many hopeful examples. She argues, though, that one does not need to be a biologist or save a species to make a difference: any individual can do their share even if one starts with small steps...

Her global youth movement, Roots&Shoots, gives young people of all ages a tool to do something in their own country or neighbourhood for the environment, animals and people. At the lecture in Brussels, the Jane Goodall’s Roots&Shoots was officially re-launched in Belgium. Two schools – the International School of Brussels and the International Montessori School – as well as one university – the Boston University in Brussels – have already announced to be pilot cases for the Belgian R&S movement. Anyone can start an R&S group - families, neighbourhoods, groups of children - as long as they do some real projects around the three pillars (environment, animals and people) and with one common topic woven through it: peace and respect.

I invite you to have a look at the media coverage page on our website to catch some beautiful glimpses of this great human being. You can read more here to see what Sunbeams has done in the past to support the Jane Goodall Institute in Belgium. You will also hear more about our closer cooperation, especially with the Roots&Shoots youth program in the near future. In addition, Sunbeams decided that for every 5 trees planted at our Tree Planting Event on 20 March 2011 in Belgium, we will donate one tree to the tree planting operation of Jane Goodall’s Roots&Shoots in Central Africa.

Wishing you all a sprinkle of Dr. Jane Goodall’s magic!

Ilke Pedersen-Beyst

Founder and President of Sunbeams

Articles Fri, 10 Dec 2010 13:34:06 +0000
Jane Goodall in Brussels - Media Coverage Jane Goodall in Brussels - Media Coverage]]> Articles Thu, 25 Nov 2010 10:16:27 +0000 Jane Goodall Addresses 300 Children of 37 Nationalities in Brussels

jg_ep2_smDr. Jane Goodall was in the European Parliament on  Monday (22 November) to talk to children of 37 nationalities from schools in Brussels. She talked about chimpanzees, the importance of conserving the environment and ensuring the future. "We haven't inherited the Planet from our parents, we borrowed it from our children," she told us in an interview before the conference when we also asked some questions from EP fans on Facebook.

Dr Goodall, you are in the EP but not to address MEPs, you are here to address a very different crowd, which is more interesting to you?

Yes, I'm going to be addressing young people, children from many different areas. Of course, it is important to address the Chamber too. The world is in such a mess, we have inflicted so much harm on it that we need to work from the top as well as from the bottom. But I'm certainly working very hard to developing our youth programme "Roots & Shoots".

What are the key messages you are going to deliver today?

That although we have harmed their future, there is a lot they can do. It's about time that we all get together, the elders and the youth and start healing some of the scars that we have inflicted.

jg_ep_medEnvironmental protection and biodiversity are key subjects for the UN climate change conference in December in Mexico. What is your message to participants?

The message is that one of the most important things we can do to slow down climate change, and one of the most economically effective, is to protect tropical rainforests. As we cut down the forests, we release CO2, and then burning releases more, the forest itself is sequestering CO2.

Another message is to address intensive animal farming. Vast areas of forests are cut down to provide places to grow grain, more and more people eat more and more meat, they want cheap meat. The animals are fed unnatural diets so they produce huge amounts of methane gas which is a big contributor to the greenhouse effect. Cruelty aside, this intensive farming is incredibly damaging to the environment and to human health.

A question from Charlotte Biddle, an EP fan on Facebook: "As a UN messenger of peace what do you feel are the most important messages to convey regarding the environment and wildlife?"

The most important message is that environment is part of our future. So many people think it's a question of either or. Either it's human development or it's environmental protection. If we don't protect our environment and our natural resources, the future of our children is in jeopardy. There is a saying, "We haven't inherited the Planet from our parents; we borrowed it from our children". We've been stealing, stealing, stealing, and here we are, the most intellectual people ever to have walked on the Planet, and with this incredibly complex brain of ours we destroyed our only home.

It's been said that if everybody on the Planet had the standard of living of the average European, we would need up to 5, even 6 new planets. We don't even have one new planet. So we must use this complex brain of ours and start making wise decisions, based on how these decisions will affect people in the future, now how they affect us now.

Dinesh Kumar (EP fan on Facebook): What can common people do to protect biodiversity, after Homo Sapiens (supposedly wise man) destroyed a good part of it?

People often ask me: "What can I do?" The problems are so huge in the world that people feel helpless, and when you feel helpless you just don't do anything. Everyone leaves it to the scientists and the politicians, as "it is their problem, not mine". But I always say "just spend a few minutes every day thinking about the consequences of the choices you make - what you buy, what you eat, what you wear, how you get from A to B". Some people cannot afford to make the right choice but there are millions of people who can, and everyone can make some of the right choices.

Danielle Demos (EP fan on Facebook): Indigenous delegates to the Fifth World Parks Congress, Durban, South Africa in 2003 said, “First we were dispossessed in the name of Kings and emperors, later in the name of state development, and now in the name of conservation.” What would be your answer to them?

My answer is that I'm with them 100%. We work with indigenous people in several parts of the world. They have been abused, dispossessed; they were the stewards of their land. Fortunately in many places they begin to find their voice again. I'm so deeply impressed by the indigenous people who stand up against these forces who would dispossess them, even to the risk of their lives, to try a find a way for them to continue to be stewards of their land and to protect it from the rapacious greed of the rest of the world.


This article first appeared on the European Parliament website  where a short video clip is also available.

You can also watch the video of all of  Dr. Jane's address.

Articles Wed, 24 Nov 2010 13:11:03 +0000