Urban Conservation Projects


Educating the youth about the importance of conserving the environment is a large component of The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s (EWT) mandate and the WESSA Eco-Schools Programme is an ideal delivery vehicle for this.

The Eco-Schools Programme (ESP) is an extensive and hands-on, internationally recognised, environmental education programme that focuses on improving environmental management within schools, as well as promoting environmental learning and provides opportunities for students and educators to improve and empower their schools and communities at large. The ESP is being implemented in over 52 countries worldwide and over 1100 schools in South Africa are currently part of the programme.  Through this programme, the EWT and supporting partners provide a platform that enables teachers, learners, community members and/or partner organisations to undertake projects towards improving various aspects of environmental management at their school. Some of these projects range from saving electricity and/or water to developing food gardens. These projects then aim to achieve an “Eco-Code” specifically created by each schools. The Eco-Code outlines the school’s values and goals for better environmental management. The EWT provides any materials needed for the chosen projects and assists in an advisory capacity in all aspects. During the implementation of the Eco-Schools Programme, teachers draw on the practical components of a chosen theme to strengthen environmental learning at the school by developing materials to include in the curriculum. Each year they strive to improve on their efforts, and aim towards achieving established goals which will eventually qualify them for an internationally recognised symbol of excellence, the Eco-Schools flag. 

Meeting the objectives of the project essentially entails applying the seven Eco-School Steps. The EWT assists each school with this process through direct consultation and regular on-site visits providing expertise and guidance. These steps include:
Step one: The formation of an Eco-Committee in each school. 
Step two: The drafting of an Eco-Code
Step three: Complete an Eco-Audit 
Step four: Selecting a theme
Step five: Plan for teaching and learning
Step six: Plan and take action
Step seven: Report and share
The programme takes a holistic, participatory approach that combines learning and meaningful action towards protecting the environment to the benefit of the school and the broader community, through positively influencing young lives, local communities, school staff and families.

Celebrating National Literacy Day at Lefofa Primary School

Recycling bins provided to Lefofa Primary School and Selang Primary School

Achievements in 2015
The EWT would like to extend their gratitude to Bakwena for supporting this important initiative that has thus far benefitted over 10778 school learners as well as countless members of the surrounding communities. We are proud to announce that all ten of our Hammanskraal schools successfully implemented their different projects in 2015. Projects included food gardens, recycling projects and nature and heritage. At the end of 2015, schools were evaluated by WESSA and all of our five new schools received Bronze awards with merit. Our schools in their third year also received their awards, with Lefofa Primary School being the first of the EWT’s schools to receive a Green Flag with merit.

It is extremely rewarding to see that established projects from previous years continue to be implemented effectively, reinforcing the principle that the WESSA Eco-Schools Programme is a truly sustainable initiative and creates long term benefits for schools and the surrounding communities. It was also noted that the teachers at all schools are incorporating thematic content into their lesson plans and are they themselves developing new skills. The vegetable gardens have improved the schools’ food security and are bringing in a bit of extra income for the schools. Recycling projects  have also involved the broader community with parents getting involved in weaving hats from recycled plastic packets. The general attitude towards the project amongst staff at the schools is constantly improving as the tangible benefits of the project become more evident. 

Hats woven from recycled plastic packets by members of the
Lefofa Primary School’s Eco-committee

Vegetables grown in Mosaledi Primary School’s vegetable garden

Looking Forward 
As a result of the success of the WESSA Eco-Schools Programme in the Hammanskraal area, the EWT pursued our vision to grow the project in schools in and around disadvantaged townships in Johannesburg. We are happy to announce that, with the generous support of SBV, two more schools in the Alexandra Township of Johannesburg have joined the programme, bringing the total number of schools registered by the EWT for the WESSA Eco-School Programme for 2016 to 12. We would like to acknowledge Bakwena N1/N4 Toll Concession (ten schools) and SBV (two schools) for supporting our initiative and vision for these schools, as well as the young lives impacted by the programme.   

The success of this project has demonstrated that, not only does it increase environmental knowledge that will enable a more sustainable future for our country; it also provides schools and communities with tangible short term benefits in the form of produce grown in the gardens or items created from recycled materials. The vegetables grown in the schools’ gardens are used not only to feed the learners but are also sold to generate funds towards the improvement of school facilities and contribute to community development. The recycling projects are also contributing to skills development and income generation for the communities. Through the Eco-Schools capacity-building and knowledge-sharing workshops, teachers are provided with opportunities to increase their capacity to better teach and understand environmental content within the curriculum. This bolsters the confidence of educators to bring about change in their schools. The programme has also afforded rural learners the opportunity to undertake action projects within their schools and transfer their learnings into their homes and communities. By extending the project into more schools in the province, we are hoping to reach many more community members and make a real difference in the communities of Gauteng.

For more information on the WESSA Eco-Schools Programme, please see www.wessa.org.za or contact the EWT team:

Emily Taylor – Project Coordinator

Zethu Sibiya - Environmental Education & Urban Conservation Project Officer


Children from Mosaledi Primary School enjoying time in their vegetable garden

Kekana_recycling_project: Kekana teachers and learners making mats and hats to sell from recycled plastic bags


Mabu-a-tlou Garden: The flourishing vegetable garden at
Mabu-a-tlou Primary School


Arbour Day 2015: EWT and Bakwena staff celebrating Arbour Day 2016 at one of our Eco-Schools in Hammanskraal.