1986 / 1987 : Cycling to save the Rhino
Environment Africa was formed after the famous transcontinental bicycle journey that became known as the ´Ride for Rhino´ undertaken by Charlene Hewat and Julie Edwards. Both became known as ‘The Rhino Girls’. They raised funds and awareness for African endangered species, particularly the Black Rhino. They set out from Glasgow, Scotland in September 1986 and cycled through Scandinavia, down through Europe across to Africa and down the African continent across the mighty Zambezi River at Victoria Falls and into Harare one year and 22 000km later! As well as laying the foundations for Environment Africa, the Rhino Girls, with the help of Allan Munn, published the book ‘Extinction is Forever’ which set the tone for the organization’s watchdog and environmental advocacy roles.
The Rhino Girls met many famous celebrities along the way, including the then Prime Minister of England, Margaret Thatcher, Phil Collins, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, the Pope, George Adamson and Kenneth Kaunda. They received local and international acclaim as a result of their ride and were awarded with the nomination for the Rolex Award for Enterprise in 1989; the Schweppes Award for Outstanding Service to the Community in 1989 and, in 1995. Charlene Hewat was awarded the Junior Chambers International Award for The Most Outstanding Young Person of the World for Environmental Leadership. Previous recipients of this prestigious internationally recognized award have been Orson Wells and the late John F Kennedy to name a few.
1990 : Environment 2000
With the vision of a better 2000 the birth of the Environment 2000 Foundation saw the growth of the organization from a staff of five to one of Zimbabwe’s leading environmental organizations. This growth was determined by the great interest that Zimbabweans demonstrated in participating in environmental issues and a call for guidance and encouragement to take action. Before the year 2000, Environment 2000 was also elected to the Global 500 Role of Honour of the United Nations Environment Programme in recognition of outstanding practical achievements in the protection and improvement of the environment, amongst other recognitions.
2001 : Environment Africa
In 2001 the organization was re-branded with the name Environment Africa. This was the formalization of the organization’s commitment, not just to Zimbabwe but also to the region and Africa as a whole.
2007 – 2008 : Environment Africa in the Region
Environment Africa registered as a local organization in Malawi and Zambia and has established a Board of Governors to govern the organization in these countries. In 2008, Environment Africa registered a UK Charity called Tree Africa, which is a resource-mobilizing office to support Environment Africa projects in southern Africa.
2010 and beyond : Environment Africa stronger beyond borders
Environment Africa has become a key national institution in Zimbabwe, one of the major agencies outside of the States, dealing with the broad range of environmental issues critical to everyone’s livelihood and wellbeing. Environment Africa has built skills and capacities and a network of active supports and has gained a solid reputation for delivering successful programmes and projects in both rural, peri-urban and urban communities while still maintaining best management practices.
Environment Africa has been invited by Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania to share skills, passion and success with their people and move beyond borders. Further resource-mobilizing offices are being considered for Germany, USA and Australia to add to the UK charity and it is hoped that further support will be obtained for the important work that is being carried out in southern Africa.