11 eco-friendly service projects around the world


The Indigenous Tarahumara people live on the remote slopes and canyons of Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains, growing ancient varieties of corn and beans for sustenance. But the seeds for these plants, handed down through generations, were wiped out by a prolonged drought. In the wake of the resulting widespread hunger, many young people and women with children left their homes to beg on city streets.

The Rotary clubs of Chihuahua Campestre, Mexico, and St. Augustine Sunrise, Florida, worked with a nongovernmental organization called Barefoot Seeds to facilitate community discussions with Tarahumara leaders to come up with solutions. Community leaders said they wanted seed banks and improved water storage to support continued subsistence farming.

As an environmentalist and proud Rotarian, having Rotary’s attention directed to the environment fits exactly within my interests.

Wijdan Alsharif

Member of club of Ramallah, Palestine and co-founder of the Palestine Green Building Council

The project established seed banks, demonstration farms, and plots to grow additional seeds using sustainable farming methods; reintroduced goats to improve soil fertility; installed rainwater harvesting equipment; and provided training. The project also provided solar-powered chest freezers to further extend the shelf life of stored seeds. At least 500 Tarahumara farmers received seeds, goats, or improved water access the first year.

This story originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Rotary magazine.


In response to the devastation of hurricanes Gaja and Thane and the Nivar cyclone, Rotary members in the agricultural region of Tamil Nadu, India, planted over one million square feet of saplings in 100 days. The tree planting projects follow the style established by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, in which trees can grow 10 times faster.

Volunteers dug a hole three feet deep, mixed in manure and soil around a sapling, and then built fencing to protect the young tree. Water is provided through irrigation channels from nearby wells.

“The clubs left no stone unturned in approaching landowners, institutions, campuses, and organizations in fulfilling their mission,” says club member R Balaji Babu.

This story originally appeared on rotarynewsonline.org.

The protection of rivers, lakes, and seas is a major global undertaking, as water is an elementary part of life.

New Zealand

The Rotary clubs of Plimmerton and Porirua, New Zealand, have planted 5,000 species of wetlands trees and plants and plan to plant an additional 5,000 in 2021 to protect a wetland near Plimmerton in hopes of creating a forest of peace and remembrance. It is part of a New Zealand wide project funded by the Billion Trees program celebrating 100 years of Rotary in New Zealand and Australia.

“Our vision is to start a forest that will be able to be enjoyed by our grandchildren’s grandchildren,” says Bill McAulay, president of the Rotary Club of Plimmerton.

This story originally appeared in the February issue of Rotary Down Under magazine.