• Biodiversity
  • Climate Change

Transforming Tree Planting in Uganda and Tackling Plastic Waste Crisis

  • Initiative

The Welsh Government, through its Wales and Africa Programme, has a long-standing partnership with the Mbale Region of Eastern Uganda, where it is implementing an ambitious tree nursery program to enhance community resilience to the impacts of climate change. Indeed, the Welsh charity, the Size of Wales, and their partners, the Mount of Elgon Tree Growing Enterprise (METGE), supported by the Wales and Africa Programme, aim to distribute 50 million trees in Eastern Uganda by 2030. The trees provide shade to improve crop yields, prevent landslides, and enhance soil quality. They also absorb carbon to help slow down climate change.

Despite these positive strides, a critical environmental challenge emerged – each tree seedling traditionally comes encased in a single-use plastic sleeve, contributing to the global plastic waste problem upon disposal during the planting stage.

In response to this challenge, Bangor University in Wales, in collaboration with METGE and the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in Uganda, and supported by the Welsh Government, pioneered the development of revolutionary solution: a biodegradable potting sleeve called “Biopots.” Crafted from Ugandan agricultural residues such as maize, banana, cassava, and cereal, these Biopots protect the seedlings from sun and water during their growth phase and subsequently degrade harmlessly in the soil once planted.

The project is technically challenging, but once the final formulation is perfected, production can begin. The hope is that eventually, the potting sleeves can be used by hundreds of tree planting projects in equatorial Africa to help reduce the environmental impacts of single-use plastic waste.

This collaborative endeavour not only showcases the commitment of the Welsh Government and its partners in fostering sustainable practices but also exemplifies a pioneering solution with the potential to inspire and drive positive change on a global scale. The success of this initiative stands as a testament to the power of collaborative action in addressing pressing environmental challenges and fostering a more sustainable future for all.

  • References

Uganda: Mbale Trees Programme | Size of Wales

Wales and Africa | GOV.WALES

Welsh Government and Africa Programme | Regions4


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