On the 11th October 2019, the Mbale Tree Planting Programme reached a huge milestone with the planting of the 10 millionth tree! This achievement was celebrated simultaneously in Wales and Uganda with climate change activist Leah Namugerwa and First Minister Mark Drakeford planting trees in Uganda and Wales respectively.
In Wales Mark Drakeford planted a tree in Bute Park, Cardiff. He was joined by children from Cwmcarn Primary School’s Eco team. In Uganda Leah Namugerwa, 15, planted the 10 millionth tree and was joined by 600 children from Makunda Primary School and the members of the Sunu Women’s Group.
Leah Namugerwa is one of a new generation of young, female climate change activists, blazing a trail alongside fellow activist Greta Thunberg. Her work campaigning for tree planting and a ban on single use plastic is having a significant impact across Uganda. The tree planting was particularly poignant as it took place as Wales and the world celebrated the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child.
The ambitious Mbale tree planting programme, which is funded by the Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa programme, plants trees in the heavily-deforested Mount Elgon region of eastern Uganda. As well as tackling climate change through carbon capture, fast-growing trees protect local people in the Mount Elgon region from the effects of soil erosion, which can cause deadly landslides. The trees also provide local communities with fresh fruit and shelter and an important source of income. This programme is implemented in Uganda by the Mount Elgon Tree Growing Enterprise (METGE).
Currently around two million trees are planted every year in Uganda. This includes one for every child born or adopted in Wales as part of the Plant! scheme. However, in the next phase the Welsh Government have committed to planting a tree in Uganda for every person in Wales (3.3 million people!). We will therefore be ramping up the project in order to deliver 25 million trees by 2025, this will involve opening up new tree nurseries and expanding some of the existing ones as well as recruiting new members to the team. We are excited about this next phase of the problem and will regularly share updates via our social media channels.