My Tree Initiative and Absa Bank Uganda have partnered to spearhead an environmental conservation initiative that will engage up to 80,000 students from 160 primary and secondary schools to grow and ensure the survival of at least 160,000 trees.
According to Global Forest Watch, from 2001 to 2022, Uganda lost over one million hectares of tree cover, equivalent to a 13 per cent decrease in tree cover, and 463 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. In 2022, Uganda lost 64 kilo hectares of tree cover, equivalent to 33 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
According to National Geographic, trees absorb carbon dioxide and heat-trap greenhouse gases from human economic activities and the release of these gases into the atmosphere increases global warming and leads to prolonged periods of drought and erratic rainfalls – which have become more frequent as a result of the rapid rate of deforestation in Uganda.
The campaign will entail engaging school staff, students, and volunteers in ongoing tree care activities; collaborating with school authorities to incorporate tree-related topics into their curriculum and conducting workshops, seminars, and hands-on activities to educate students about the importance of trees and their role in the ecosystem.
The drive will also involve the planting and maintenance of 160,000 trees in the five districts of Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, Mityana and Mubende benefiting 160 primary and secondary schools.
The announcement was made during a ceremony held at Highland secondary school in Kisaasi where partners, students and volunteers planted 2,000 trees and committed to planting the same number in each of the selected schools by December 2023.
Works and Transport minister Gen Katumba Wamala, patron of My Tree Initiative emphasized the need for more members of the public and organizations to join the drive to restore Uganda’s dwindling tree cover.
“Uganda has been blessed with a beautiful natural environment, but the rate at which we are defiling it is going to be detrimental to our livelihoods in the long run and deprive future generations of the opportunity to enjoy their home country. I, therefore, call upon more people and organizations in the private sector to join this noble cause for the good of our nation and its people,” he said.
Speaking during the ceremony, Mumba Kalifungwa, Absa Bank Uganda’s managing director, said, “As a pan-African bank, Absa Bank Uganda has a strong belief in the potential of the youth to drive change and shape the future. By encouraging young people to plant trees, we are incorporating within them a culture of responsibility towards and care for the environment, which will reap tremendous benefits for their communities and the country as a whole.”
Enjer Ashraf, the executive director at My Tree Initiative – a Ugandan youth-founded non-profit organization dedicated to combating climate change, said, “We are cognizant of the fact that the youth are the future, which is why we are recruiting almost 80,000 primary and secondary school students through this drive to join the fight towards restoring Uganda’s tree cover so that they can begin to develop a love for their natural environment and understand the basics of taking restorative care of their natural environments.”