Skip to content

06/10/2023 News

Uganda Is Running Out of Trees: Partners Target To Grow 40 Million Trees This Year

Kajjansi, 6th October 2023: Ministry of Water and Environment in partnership with private sector stakeholders including; Uganda Breweries Limited, Stanbic Bank Uganda, ABSA, Roofings, TotalEnergies EP Uganda among others; Development and civil society partners have once again held a national tree planting day as part of the ROOTS – Running Out of Trees campaign during which one (1) million trees were planted at St Francis Xavier, Bweya Kajjansi, and across the rest of the country. The chief planter was the Hon. Minister of Water and Environment – Hon. Cheptoris Sam who represented His Excellency the President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Running Out Of Trees (ROOTS) is an initiative established by the Ministry of Water and Environment together with public and private partners to restore Uganda’s tree cover by 200 Million trees over a 5 year period till 2026, planting 40 Million trees each year, symbolizing a tree by every Ugandan.

According to an inventory done by the National Forestry Authority in 2017, Uganda has lost half its forestry cover in the past 30 years alone, from 4.9 million Hectares to 2.5 million Hectares. 65% of forest degradation takes place on private land as land owners choose land use change from forestry to agriculture and 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 including firewood and charcoal.

Hon. Cheptoris Sam highlighted this year’s theme ‘Conserving Uganda’s tree species diversity through the establishment of tree seed banks’ which serves to remind us of our bio-diversity and unique heritage that provides us with food, medicine, building materials, fibre and economic support for our well-being, to withstand climate change. “Ministry of Water and Environment pledges to sustain the mobilization of private, public, civil society and development partners under the ROOTS umbrella, as a means of collectively tackling the current climate change issues. Geo-tracking of trees is also critical to the ROOTS initiative”

Speaking on behalf of the private sector partners, Jean Gavalda, Business Development and Corporate Affairs Director – Total Energies said that “The issue of the impact of deforestation on climate change shifts us off our very core as human beings and adversely as businesses. The cost to business is already evident with the floods, landslides, and prolonged droughts that we have witnessed here. The private sector understands and sees how critical it is to act today to combat the negative impact that deforestation could potentially impact on our people and businesses. When ROOTs started in 2020, we were only 5 private sector partners, by 2022 we had grown to over 20 partners and now in 2023, we are over 30 companies, religious and traditional institutions, schools, government agencies, and development partners joining this effort. Therefore, we shall not tire of putting out this rallying cry to our counterparts in the private sector, that when we come knocking, please do heed our call.”

The ROOTS initiative consists of more partners including the Catholic Church through the Franciscan Missionaries, Church of Uganda, Buganda Kingdom, Toro Kingdom, Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom National Water and Sewerage Corporation, Roofings Group, National Agricultural Research Organization, Mt Elgon Tree Growing Enterprise, Tree Adoption Uganda, Tree Talk Plus, Uganda National Farmers Federation, Kampala City Council Authority, and Absa bank Uganda.

The Stanbic Bank’s Head of Sustainability, Cathy Adengo said that the bank’s goal is to encourage more partnerships to achieve greater impact in the efforts to protect the environment. “We are pleased to remain a strong partner in the Running Out of Trees programme to support our national environmental conversation and preservation objectives.  Our forests must be protected, and we must collectively drive the restoration of our forest cover to address the climate change challenges we face. To support this effort, I am pleased to announce that Stanbic Bank through its employee community programmes has committed to plant 1 million trees to ensure we contribute positively to protecting our environment.”

The Uganda Breweries Managing Director Mr. Andrew Kilonzo highlighted the importance of the private sector coming together to address the deforestation challenge that does not only threaten Uganda, but the global ecosystem itself, noting that investing in tree growing may not be seen in the short term as good business, but it is good for business.  “Forestry cover is critical to the health of this planet and it is up to us companies that have a high dependency on forests, its ecosystem for the sustainability of our business to take purposeful steps not in words only but in action.

“For TotalEnergies EP Uganda, in the communities where we operate and the country at large, we would like to contribute to resilient and sustainable socio-economic development by working together to protect our natural resources and our ecosystem. Forests are reservoirs of biodiversity and through our Tilenga Biodiversity Programme, we are pleased to work with the National Forestry Authority, ECOTRUST and Chimpanzee sanctuary towards protecting key forest reserves as well partnering with communities to restore key forest corridor linkages within the Bugoma – Budongo corridor,” added Jean Gavalda. “We are already engaging in the preservation of 10,000 hectares of natural forest threatened by deforestation and restoration of 1,000 hectares of tropical forest. With our annual campaign “Grow A Tree Everywhere” (GATE), we planted over 100,000 trees in 2022 in the Tilenga project areas of Nwoya and Buliisa districts and for 2023, we have planted 75,000 fruit and cash trees together with communities. Our partnership with the Government of Uganda and private sector in the ROOTs campaign is therefore in line with our different sustainable development initiatives.” Jean GAVALDA, Business Development and Corporate Affairs Director, TotalEnergies EP Uganda.

Transparency for trees grown is crucial to the ROOTs campaign. Tree growing organizations have for long relied upon manual methods and tools for tree data collection such as excel sheets and paper-based field reports that provide aggregate totals of trees grown. These methods are insufficient, because they lack immutable evidence or data on each tree actually grown. Tree Adoption Uganda (TAU), a local youth centric NGO integrates digital tree data collection for tree growing initiatives. Dr. Charles Batte the Executive Director at Tree Adoption Uganda remarked that; “Digital data on each tree grown enhances transparency and efficiency in reporting, which improves confidence of investors, funders, and the public – thus enhancing participation. Currently, we use the Tree Adoption App to collect data on each individual tree grown including; image of the tree, GPS location, date of planting, tree species, and name of the planter. Geolocation data for these trees is used for follow up and monitoring, enabling us to demonstrate impact over time”

“Tree planting is one of the most effective ways to combat the climate crisis and restore biodiversity. Our country relies heavily on agriculture which is climate dependent. Climate change therefore poses a significant risk to our community in the areas of environmental degradation, food security, economic impact to our source of livelihoods as a largely agricultural nation. That is why we should all care. Our contribution to this initiative is well within our agenda at Absa to play a shaping role in our society, supporting environmental sustainability and mitigating the impact of climate change,” said Mumba Kalifungwa, Managing Director, Absa Bank Uganda.

According to Stuart Mwesigwa, the Corporate Affairs Manager - Roofings Group, Environmental sustainability is an integral component of Roofings’ vision of being an accelerator for a sustainable Africa. Roofings operates a tree seedling nursery at its Lubowa factory that currently produces a half a million seedlings annually. These seedlings are donated to both individuals and organizations, thereby actively facilitating tree planting endeavors across the nation. Roofings’ primary objective is to champion reforestation initiatives, with a focused effort on combating climate change and enhancing food security.

Some of the indigenous species that were planted during the national tree planting day include; Khaya species or mahogany, Melicia species/Muvule, Afzelia, Prunus Africana, sheanut tree, Canarium species, Warbugia, fruit trees, among others.  Since the event is national in character similar celebrations have been 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.

The ROOTs 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.


For more information, contact 0782 432 048