Size of Wales’ annual tree planting drive this year – Trees for Christmas – has been the most successful ever. People and businesses across Wales came together to raise enough money to plant 73,208 fruit trees in Mbale, Uganda.
Thanks to these donations local families and communities in the Mbale area of Eastern Uganda will benefit from trees that provide food, income and shade as well as absorbing CO₂ to help tackle climate change.
Climate Change is already having a devastating effect on the region, which is largely made up of small rural villages heavily dependent on small-scale farming for their food and a small income. The dry season has normally set in by late November, but on 29th November 2019 heavy rains continued, soaking soft volcanic soils and triggering flooding and landslides. “Over 39 households were buried by the mud and 25 people are still missing” said Mr. Kutosi Francis, the chairperson of one of the affected villages. Rescue efforts were hampered by bridges destroyed by the flooding. Local farmers are also reporting changes in the climate of the region which are affecting their ability to grow their crops, including coffee.
Businesses played a significant part in this success of the programme this year by partnering with Size of Wales to run promotions to donate to the campaign, these included Howies, Cowshed, SportPursuit, Wales Co-op, Eartha and Good Energy. Individuals from across Wales also contributed by planting trees on behalf of friends and family as Christmas gifts.
Elspeth Jones, Director at Size of Wales, said:
“We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported our Tree for Christmas campaign, which encourages people to celebrate Christmas by donating fruit trees to family homes in Mbale, Uganda. These trees will make a real difference to the lives of families in the region, and whilst our trees in Wales become dormant for Winter, on the equator in Uganda they can keep absorbing CO₂ and mitigating climate change all year round, benefiting everyone.
“Planting over 70,000 trees is such a positive start to Size of Wales’ 10th Anniversary year, and three additional seedling nurseries have been opened this month in the area, which will support the additional planting and the ambitious target of planting 25 million trees by 2025. Our partners will be opening more nurseries throughout the year as we continue to scale up the programme.”
To make a donation to the programme or for further information about tree planting in Uganda or our project partners – the Mount Elgon Tree Growing Enterprise – please visit the Mbale Trees Programme Page.
Uganda’s forests are under severe threat, being lost at a rate of 1.8% per year. Trees are being planted by partners in the Mount Elgon Tree Growing Enterprise (METGE) across the Mt Elgon region, largely in the gardens of poor farmers. The agroforestry trees improve crop yields by providing shade and improved soil fertility, shelter from storms and extreme weather and many provide fruit. Some trees provide firewood and others are cut and sold as timber and are replaced.
The Mbale trees programme has been operating in the region for 8 years to boost local incomes through tree planting, as well as improving the local environment and contributing to global climate change mitigation. The original target for the programme was to plant 1 million trees.
Former First Minister Carwyn Jones visited Mbale in 2014 to plant the millionth tree, and since then the programme has gone from strength to strength. The 10 millionth tree was planted in October 2019, with the current First Minister, Mark Drakeford, planting a pear tree in Bute Park, Cardiff to commemorate the enormous milestone. The programme is now aiming to scale up its response to the climate emergency by reaching 25 million trees by 2025.
Currently c.2 million trees are planted every year in the programme. The Welsh Government has recently set a target of planting a tree for every person in Wales in Mbale every year in the draft International Strategy – approximately 3.1 million trees. Our partners in Uganda will be substantially expanding the nursery network in Uganda this year to reach this target.