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Equity bank launches Kasese Conservation Forestry program

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Equity bank led by Executive Director Elizabeth Mwerinde Kasedde in partnership with the community, Million Trees International and Kasese District has embarked on a tree-planting campaign that would see over 7000 indigenous trees planted across the district to conserve the environment and combat climate change.

Speaking at the launch of the Kasese Conservation Forestry program, in Rukoki Ward, Kasese District, Mwerinde said: “At Equity, we are very keen on promoting sustainable finance by concentrating on People and Planet as we conduct our business. In an effort to conserve the environment, Equity has partnered with several organisations to promote various forestry initiatives to encourage the adoption of sustainable solutions for preserving natural environments.”

Mwerinde said the initiative will contribute towards addressing climate change. It is also an opportunity to engage the community in environmental conservation as well as provide an opportunity to earn an income through tree planting and maintenance activities.

The Kasese Conservation Forestry program is starting with 50 acres of land in Mwaro Cell, Rukoki Ward, in Nyamwamba Division offered by Kasese Municipality Council. A total of 7000 indigenous trees like Spathodea, Mahogany, Maesopsis, Afrizelia, Warbugia Ugandensis, Prunus Africanus, Musambya, Terminelia will be grown.

The site is one of the catchments to the problematic River Nyamwamba, which occasionally breaks its banks due to lack of enough vegetation cover in its catchment areas. Kasese District is also a water-stressed district with stray rains of less than 600mm of rain annually.

“Kasese Municipality is a strategic tourism center that requires natural forest cover to improve sceneries and boost local Tourism initiatives. All of these informed our decision to restore the area to contribute to the SDGs agenda 2030,” said Jibril Semakura Owomugisha, Founder and Director of Million Trees International.

According to Semakura the aim is to grow one million trees per constituency across the country by 2034 through conservation forestry, agroforestry and urban forestry programs all about increasing Uganda’s Forestry Cover. The community will monitor and grow the trees into a forest under the arrangement. Each community member will get a monthly stipend for the monitoring of the trees.

The activity is part of the wider Equity Group target to plant 35 million trees across the six countries it operates in. Its technical partners will provide technical support including; the Identification of hotspots that require urgent tree cover and/or rehabilitation of degraded forests; mapping out agro-ecological zones and identification of suitable tree species for planting; identification of high-quality tree seedlings stocks across the country; and support by partner and staff at local levels to supervise the proper planting and maintenance of the trees.

Through its Energy and Environment pillar, Equity bank supports the transition to clean energy that reduces reliance on wood fuel, charcoal, and fossils fuels like kerosene as a source of energy.

To reach a larger scale and create more impact, the Bank also created an energy loan dubbed Equi-Green Loan available digitally via mobile network and at branches. The loan supports the community and institutions to access clean and affordable energy for use.

Equity is also working with farmers to support them in purchasing both indigenous tree seedlings and fruit trees. We are also working with our customers to encourage them to plant trees.

According to scientists, planting trees is one of the biggest and cheapest ways of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere to tackle the climate crisis. It is also fundamental to the survival of forest dwellers, and are important provider of ecosystem services, including maintaining, and restoring soil fertility, and protecting watersheds and water courses.

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