20/05/2022 Press release
ROOTS CAMPAIGN TO GROW 1 MILLION TREES ON MAY 2Oth
Entebbe, May 20th 2022: The Ministry of Water and Environment in partnership with private sector stakeholders including; Uganda Breweries Limited, Stanbic Bank Uganda, TotalEnergies EP Uganda, ATC Uganda, among others; the Development Partners, and the civil society partners have today embarked on an initiative to plant 1 Million Trees across the country in one day, as a show of firm commitment towards the Running out of Trees (ROOTs) Campaign whose ambition is to plant 40 Million Trees per year until 2026 for the first phase of the programme. Now in its third year, with over 25 million Trees grown to date since 2020, the ROOTs campaign brings together the public Sector, civil society and the Private Sector in concerted efforts to address a looming challenge of deforestation in the country that threatens to render Uganda more vulnerable to climate related disasters and unable to meet its wood needs by 2030, if nothing drastic is done to reverse the declining forest cover.
According to an inventory done by the National Forestry Authority in 2019, Uganda has lost half its forestry cover in the past 30 years alone, from 4.9 million Hectares to 2.5 million Hectares. For Context, the Population of Uganda in 1990 was estimated to be about 17.5 million by the World Bank and currently stands at over 48 million, projected to be at 74 million in 2040 according to a World Bank Economic Update of 2020. This statistic gives us a glimpse into what the future could hold considering that 65% of forest degradation takes place on private land as land owners choose land use change from forestry to agriculture, industry or settlement over biodiversity conservation. Moreover, forestry contributes 6% of the GDP of Uganda and more than 90% of the population depend directly on forest for their energy needs i.e. firewood & Charcoal.
This peak event in which 1 million Trees are expected to be planted in one day across the country with the national celebration at the National Plant Genetic Resources, Botanical Gardens in Entebbe, a venue, symbolic in its own right for being a treasure trove of indigenous and other tree species right on the shores of Lake Victoria. Over 700 trees of indigenous endangered species will be planted by heads of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Intergovernmental organizations, private sector CEOs, Civil Society, cultural and religious institutions. Some of the indigenous species to be planted include; Khaya species or mahogany, Melicia species/Muvule, Afzelia, Prunus Africana, sheanut tree, Canarium species, among others. Since the event is national in character similar celebrations will be replicated across the country coordinated by the Ministry of Water and Environment regional offices, Mbale for Eastern Uganda, Kwania for Northern Uganda, Mbarara for Western Uganda while additional planting will be continued at district level by institutions and individual planters, the cumulative sum of which is expected to surpass 1 million trees mark.
Speaking at the tree planting occasion that was officiated by H.E Jessica Alupo, the Vice President representing H.E the President, the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Water and Environment Mr. Alfred Okot Okidi said that whereas rate of the loss of forestry cover in the country is dire, the Ministry’s every intention is to work with the private sector, the public and other willing partners to ensure that a timely intervention like the ROOTs campaign is executed efficiently. “The government of Uganda committed to the Bonn Challenge that confronted governments with the task of halting, reversing the worrying trend of forest loss. Here, we committed to restoring 2.5 hectares of degraded forest landscapes by 2030. Our task is great, but this mission is achievable, through strategic partnerships with the private sector whose resources sometimes give us the means and help us spread the message wider.”
TotalEnergies EP Uganda’s Business Development & Corporate Affairs Director, Jean GAVALDA said, “Our activity in Uganda found its roots around 3 pillars: Energies, Social and Biodiversity. For biodiversity and environment, we, together with our partners, will conserve and leave it better than we found it. We are already engaging to preserve 10000ha of primary forest and restore 1000ha forest. With our annual campaign “Grow A Tree Everywhere” (GATE), 100,000 trees will be growing in the Tilenga project areas of Nwoya and Buliisa districts. We are proud to participate and support the ROOTs campaign for a sustainable future. Today I planted another tree on earth.”
The ROOT Campaign was launched in January 2020 as a 5-year project geared towards Soliciting commitment from the Private sector to support Government’s initiative to restore forest cover to reverse the human impact on decline of forest cover. Over 25 million Trees have been grown in the years following the launch, even with the disruption that Covid-19 presented the campaign. The campaign also seeks to elicit commitment from the Government of Uganda to gazette a National Tree Planting Day to encourage the general public to join efforts with the government and private sector in committing to restoring, protecting and replenishing forests.