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Private Companies Boost National Effort to Plant 40 Million Trees

Kampala: The Ministry of Water and Environment in partnership with Uganda Breweries Limited, American Tower Corporation (ATC) Uganda, Stanbic Bank Uganda and MTN Foundation has for the second year running announced a Running out of Trees (ROOT) Initiative which targets to plant 40 million trees countrywide. The tree planting drive, targeted at the restoration of the indigenous tree and fruit species across the entire landscapes of Uganda will take place on May 17th on the National Tree Planting Day.

The Ministry of Water and Environment launched a National Tree Planting Campaign in 2020 built around engaging local stakeholders in attaining national restoration goals with the aim to rally Ugandans into action through increased public awareness and participation, especially the private sector in the conservation and protection of indigenous tree species to address ongoing loss and conversion of primary and secondary natural forest. The campaign approach also involves adopting restoration strategies to fit local social, economic and ecological contexts and a wide range of eligible technical strategies for restoring a mosaic canopy of trees on the national landscape. In addition, we aim at fast tracking national restoration goals and commitments that include but not limited to;

The pledge to restore 2.5million hectares of degraded landscapes by 2030 under the Bonn Challenge
Vision 2040 aimed at restoring forest cover of total land area to 24%
Uganda’s Green Growth Strategy
Uganda’s Nationally Determined Contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

According to The Minister of Water and Environment, Sam Cheptoris, 65% of forest degradation takes place on private land and on several occasions the land owners choose land use change from forestry to agriculture, industry or settlement over biodiversity conservation. Current national deforestation rates stand at 2% annually with an average of 122,000 hectares lost every year yet 6% of the GDP of Uganda and more than 90% of the population depends directly on forest for their energy needs.  It is imperative therefore that we restore these forests faster than they are being degraded by human activity”

The ROOT Campaign was launched in February 2020 as a 5-year project geared towards soliciting commitments from the private sector to support Government’s initiative to restore forest cover. Last year, the campaign managed to attract the support of various corporate companies who came together and supported financially and also by physically taking part in a relay run that started in Kampala and ended in Gulu. This year, the corporate companies joining Uganda Breweries Limited include, Stanbic Bank Uganda, ATC Uganda and the MTN Foundation.

Speaking at the launch of this year’s ROOT, Alvin Mbugua, the Managing Director of Uganda Breweries Limited affirmed the company’s continued support to the Ministry of Water and Environment. “The Ministry’s bid to restore forest cover and reduce on the country’s Green House Emissions ties well with UBL’s Spirit of Progress which is our 10-year action plan to help create a more sustainable world. We do this by playing a significant part in preserving the natural resources on which we all depend by regenerating and restoring the landscapes and resources we rely on.” he said.

Anne Juuko the CEO of Stanbic Bank, another annual sponsor of the event reiterated the importance of the private sector coming together to play a role in this important initiative “Our world is changing and we as corporate companies and our customers are completely dependent on this changing world. It is our shared responsibility as companies who benefit a lot from it, to protect it, to nurture it and as evidenced by the current need, to replenish it. On behalf of all the corporate sponsors, I would like to say that we take this responsibility seriously and that is why every year we do what we can to pitch in to Government efforts on environmental protection”,she said.

The other main sponsors of the event ATC Uganda attributed their participation in the event to being a key corporate responsibility purpose for the company, saying “The environment is one of ATC’s five core pillars of corporate responsibility. As a key player in the telecommunications industry, we strive to conduct our operations in an environmentally friendly manner. The ROOTS initiative therefore provides a unique platform for us to contribute towards greening our environment and contributing towards the national reforestation effort” concluded CEO Michael Magambo.

As part of the launch activities this year, the organizers have included a mechanic for the public to participate through a mobile phone app called ROOTs. Using this app, participants will “run” by downloading the app and purchasing a tree seedling at Ush 1,500 each using MTN/Airtel/Africel Mobile Money, Visa or Mastercard. What this means is that the Tree Planting this year will mainly be a virtual exercise where the 40 Million will be achieved through Virtual donations on the day but the actual physical planting of trees will happen over a period of 3 months.

Between March 21st and the end of May, a team from Tree Adoption Uganda which has been designated by the Ministry will support the planting and mapping the seedlings in the designated bulk planting areas.

The Running out of Trees initiative is an annual initiative that will be held over a 5-year period to end in 2025 with the planting of over 200 million Trees and sequester an estimated 15million tons of carbon.

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