Nearly 100 years ago in deforested Kenya, ITF founder, Richard St. Barbe Baker and Chief Josiah Njonjo called out to local people to form the first group of forest guardians, a group which he called ‘Watu wa Miti’, Men of The Trees.
Gathered around the tallest tree (a Mugumo fig tree) left in the area St. Barbe explained why protecting trees was important. Local people had been clearing local land and sowing their crops on it for a few years at a time; when the land was worn out they simply moved on to another area and worked that until the land could no longer support crops. After several generations of this farming style, and hundreds of villages taking part, vast areas of land was cleared of nutrients and trees. Not being a sustainable way to farm, St. Barbe wanted to work with local people to prevent deforestation of the land.
St. Barbe conceived the idea of creating a group for the local people to be members of for the purpose of planting and protecting trees back in the area, Watu wa Miti, Men of the Trees. From 3000 volunteers, 50 were chosen and the group was formed. They were given a secret word in Gikuyu language to use so they would know who was a true member, this word was:
‘Twahamwe’, together as one.
These 50 ‘Men of The Trees’ are International Tree Foundation’s ancestors and almost 100 years later we are still working towards the same goals having only changed our company name from Men of the Trees a few years ago. We still honour the three promises and now it is your chance to join us and pledge to:
Will you Pledge for the Trees?
“I called for volunteers to promise to plant ten trees each year, do one good deed every day and take care of trees everywhere. Three thousand warriors came to my camp, and from these with the assistance of the Chiefs, I selected 50 and the ranks were closed.”
– St. Barbe (pictured here with Chief Josiah Njonjo)
Right now deforestation is hugely contributing to the climate crisis. Planting trees is the simplest and best way to halt the damage. So the time has come to open the ‘ranks’ back up and we need your help.
Now is your chance to become one of the guardians of the forest and take the very same pledge that the original 50 warriors took in 1922.
Can you pledge to:
What you get with your donation, the Tree Pledge Kit
If you pledge for £5, £10 or £15 per month you will receive the following kit. If you take the pledge for free, you will receive your official certificate in your welcome email.
10 Seed Bombs to ‘Throw and Grow’ between November and March (ensure you give us your address in the sign up form)
‘I took the ITF Tree Pledge’ pin page
Tree care PDF guides (coming soon)
Certificate of recognition
Access to the ‘Pledgers’ Facebook group
Updates on the Communities progress and events via newsletter
Forest Guides (people who want to lead on Tree Pledge planting projects) get a Kenyan made bracelet, please email us for more information. Those who Pledge for free receive only a PDF Certificate.
Meet the first Young Tree Pledgers!
With huge gratitude we thank Ava and Jake, for being the first children (or Twigs as St. Barbe called them!) to ever take the pledge of the Watu wa Miti, pictured here with Nicola CMO for ITF. This photo shows a promise of 30 trees planted per year, for life.
They are also going to be the first Forest Guides since 1922 and help children in their school take the Tree Pledge.
Won’t you join us?
Twahamwe, thank you.
Forest Guides and first men to make the Pledge
Richard St. Barbe Baker
Dance of the Trees, 1922 in Kenya