About Charlene Hewat
Msc Development Management
Charlene Hewat, is a highly respected, experienced environmental conservationist, who has dedicated the past 32 years to her country, Zimbabwe, to improving and uplifting communities lives through her strong belief in developing self-sustainability and to the protection and conservation of the environment.
Her early childhood experiences growing up on a farm in Zimbabwe instilled a deep love of nature and out of this was born her passion for the environment. Whilst out on a walk in the bush some 30 years ago, she came across the carcass of a poached rhino and it was this traumatic experience that started her on the path to where she is today. She decided something needed to be done to raise awareness and to raise funds for rhino conservation in Zimbabwe.
In 1986, together with a friend, Julie Edwards, she undertook and completed an epic 22,000km bicycle ride, starting in the UK across Europe and Africa and across the bridge over the might Victoria Falls back into Zimbabwe. This journey was published in a book ‘Extinction is Forever’ and Charlene is still affectionately known and recognised today, as ‘The Rhino Girl’.
She met many dignitaries during the ride including the Pope, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Prince Phillip, Nelson Mandela and had the rare privilege of spending time with George Adamson, aka ‘Father of the Lion’s’.
In 1990 Charlene co-founded Environment 2000 and following the year 2000, was rebranded Environment Africa, of which Charlene has been CEO for the past 30 years. The organization expanded regionally and currently works with all sectors of society in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
Through her work Charlene understands that sustainable development together with conservation and communities is key to addressing some of Africa’s challenges such as sustainable livelihoods, climate change, environmental governance and biodiversity. Sustainable livelihoods is one of the key focus areas and Charlene has promoted Private, Public, Community Partnerships, (PPCP’s) bringing the ‘C’ into the ‘Ps’.
- Raised over GBP240,000 for Rhino Conservation in Zimbabwe which was donated to National Parks in the form of landrovers, boats, and other equipment used for anti-poaching.
- Co-authored two chapters of the Open University textbook on “Environment, Development & Sustainability”
- Contributed to the Environment Management Act in Zimbabwe
- Founding member to the Clean-UP-The-World Campaign in 1997, this campaign has now institutionalised itself in many local municipalities and councils across the country.
- Was the initiator and promoter of the Moringa Tree as a source of nutrition for poor communities, both nationally and regionally
- Launched the Victoria Falls Green Fund (VFGF), with the objective to turn the Victoria Falls into a world renowned Green Destination
- Launched a programme, Tree Africa with Nelson Mandela, to plant 1 million trees. This was achieved in partnership with Rotary International in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi.
- Launched the national Environment Reporter of the Quarter and annual Environment Reporter of the Year Awards which have been held for the past 20 years.
- Developed a strong partnership with the business community which has led to a formalised Memorandum of Understanding with the Business Council for Sustainable Development of Zimbabwe
- 2013 was recognised as one of the UNWTO Ambassadors for Zimbabwe.
- Trustee of Greenline Africa Trust, a Victoria Falls based organization working with conservation and communities.
Charlene has been recognised and received numerous awards for her work both nationally and internationally, including the prestigious Junior Chambers International Award in 1995 for the Most Outstanding Young Persons of the World for Environment and her most recent award in 2017, winning in the category of Environment in the AMH Top 100 Great Zimbabweans Awards.