Wales-Mbale Climate Change Tree Planting
Project update, September 2012
- As the second year of the project is drawing to close, the project is well on track to achieve its
goal of planting 1 million trees, with over 900,000 trees already planted and a further 400,000
planned for the coming year to account for those saplings that have not survived. Some of the trees
planted 2 years ago are already around 5 metres tall.
- Around 300 fuel efficient
stoves have been built into the kitchens of tree planting partners and ongoing support and
sensitisation has been provided to ensure that the stoves are adopted into use.
- Several thousand people have attended drama production which
seeks to increase awareness on climate change.
- Several large landslides have taken place in the region over
the last year resulting in many deaths and considerable displacement. These landslides are being
attributed locally to changed weather patterns - especially increased heavy rainfall and to
deforestation. The tree planting partners report that demand for trees has dramatically increased in
recent times with a much greater appreciation among the general population of the benefits of tree
- The Welsh Government continues to work closely with the tree
planting partners and is currently approaching funders to allow the rapid expansion of the planting
in years 4, 5 and 6.
Location: Africa, Uganda, Mbale
Date project established: April 2010
The Wales – Mbale Tree Planting Project is a public-private scheme that has been developed in
association with the Size of Wales programme, which seeks to protect an area of tropical forest the
size of Wales, the Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa programme which encourages the 3 million
people in Wales (5% of the UK population) to make an effective contribution to international
development in sub-Saharan Africa and the Mbale Coalition Against Poverty which brings together
District government’s and NGO’s in the Mbale region of Uganda. The project came about
after extended discussions with local stakeholders and is based on a wider and deeper long-term
partnership within which both sides have identified clear advantages from the interaction. A major
impact of climate change within this region was found to be damage done to coffee bushes by
increasing temperature and greater intensity of rainfall.
The Wales – Gumutindo public – private partnership will be the focus of this session.
Gumutindo is a private Fairtrade Organic Coffee
Cooperative with more than 10,000 members
At least one million trees will be raised and planted by tens of local nurseries under the auspices
of Gumutindo Coffee and other local partners. Tree species have been selected that will shelter the
developing coffee harvest whilst providing a range of other advantages, including slope
stabilisation, soil improvement and increasing the range of marketable crops.
In the future, Mbale is predicted to be one of the few parts of Uganda that remains viable for coffee
production, although climate adaptation action needs to be taken to ensure that the existing, high
value arabica rather than the robusta variety grown elsewhere in Uganda remains a viable choice.
Tackling climate change is a key priority for the Welsh Government and it is underpinned by the Welsh
Government’s legal duty to promote sustainable development in the exercise of all its
functions. With the Tree Planting Project, the Welsh Government also intends to communicate how such
actions can assist with climate change mitigation and adaptation and demonstrate to the people of
Wales how climate change is happening right now in Africa.
This project will not only provide increased tree cover but, through the associated sensitization, is
likely to decrease deforestation.
Mitigation and/or Adaptation
The project is already one year in – with two further years to complete the target of one
million trees in the Mbale area (Gumutindo target: 250,000).
The Gumutindo Coffee Co-operative has already planted 100,000 seedlings, established 14 nurseries and
raised awareness to over 2000 farmers and over 10,000 community members about the positive impact
tree planting can make both in the short and long term. They have conducted formal awareness
workshops on climate change, causes, effects and solutions and also technical training in nursery
establishment, agro forestry, potting and management.
The benefit from all of this development is wide-ranging throughout members of the co-operative,
their families and the wider community and as the project progresses, the benefit will further embed.
It will take time for the trees to begin to prove their worth for the farmers but the practice of
managing the project and truly understanding the value of it, is already showing within the
- Groups are empowered to take responsibility for their own trees and to utilise the project to
plan and adapt it for the future.
- The project is assisting with awareness in the community as the tree planting programme is a
visual and practical project that has gained the interest of local people.
- Awareness and understanding of the project has lead to increased community participation in tree
planting and environmental management.
- Learning from year one is already being used to make improvements for the second year of the
The Project Manager, works with the farmers to collect data and
report monthly on developments. The 4 tree planting partners have regular meetings to update each
other on progress and to discuss challenges to progress. In the first year such challenges included
an extended dry season which turned into a drought and a Presidential election which saw several tree
nurseries abandoned whilst whole communities participated in election rallies. These regular meetings
have become an invaluable opportunity for the different groups to share with and learn from each
other – thus increasing the collective knowledge base of the region. Official reports are
gathered quarterly and passed to the Welsh Government and the Size of Wales project. Six monthly
monitoring field visits have been conducted by the Welsh Government. The Mbale Coalition Anti-Poverty
also conducts monitoring and evaluation using the offices of the local District Councils and their
Finally, each of the 4 partners conducts an evaluation of one of the other 4 each year –
creating an opportunity for in depth learning which is uncommon in the region
Each of the 4 tree planting partners was already working with their community groups on a range of
issues including health promotion, community development and improved agricultural practice. The
inclusion of the tree planting as an additional strand has strengthened the other elements and
increased community participation across the board. The availability of saplings to community group
members at no or very low cost has been an incentive to participate more widely.
Gumutindo employ agriculture extension workers to work closely with their 10,000 coffee growers,
advising on organic methods and helping improve quality through the provision of better coffee
plants. As a Fairtrade Co-operative they are committed to long-term engagement and are deeply
concerned by climate change. The changing climate is already impacting on coffee yields and there is
evidence that the optimum region for coffee growing is moving higher up the mountain every year.
The project does not just focus on planting one million trees but also on awareness and learning
within the community. Individuals are being exposed to climate change messages through training,
drama productions and the opportunity to become directly involved.
One of the community tree planting groups is planting trees to line the streets of an area of Mbale
town in order to provide much needed shade in urban and peri-urban settings.
The Tree Planting Project is one that community members are aware of and brings climate change into
the everyday conversation of people’s lives. The Ugandan community has benefited from the
widespread Welsh interest and concern, in that active measures were taken to support them on the
occasion of recent landslides and the Welsh public has an increased and increasing awareness of the
impacts of climate change.
The delivery of The Tree Planting Project is linked to the ‘Coalition Against Poverty’
that has been established between Wales-Africa Community link of PONT - Pontypridd (Rhondda Cynon
Taff, South Wales) – Mbale (Uganda), founded in 2000. This community link, which has brought
together the district councils from both sides, involves many local organisations on both sides
including the councils, hospitals, health boards, universities, and NGOs. Hundreds of people have
taken part in reciprocal visits between Pontypridd/RCT and Mbale, involving a cross-section of the
community and professionals such as doctors, engineers and teachers.
Measurement of social benefits is via 'most significant change' and similar discourse-based
tools, taking advantage of the range of formal and informal interactions taking place on a regular
[usually at least monthly] basis between the Welsh and the Ugandan partners.
More formal analysis will be the based upon the monthly and three monthly reports supplied to the
The Project Manager, regularly reports on social change and development, both formally and
informally. The Welsh Government also funds an Organisational Development professional to work with
Gumutindo at intervals throughout the year. Formal and informal reports are gathered from this work,
including the measurement of social benefits.
Potential for Scaling-up and replication of project
Currently in the second year of a three-year programme, the project aims:
- To raise awareness and capacity within a range of local communities of the advantages of and
opportunities for tree-planting in the context of regional climate change
- To increase regional tree cover, usually moving toward either low-density canopy or corridor
- To develop tree nurseries to supply the increased demand for tree saplings.
- Development of a clearer understanding and application of best practice for this region.
We anticipate that a further bid for funding will be made towards the end of year 2 which will enable
substantial scaling up at the end of year 3. The project has, to date placed a high degree of
emphasis on capacity building. We are confident that the project could be expanded to allow the
planting of 10 million trees per annum within 5 years.
The Tree Planting Project is one that could easily be replicated across the world. The Size of Wales
project has the capacity to fund the replication of this model in several sub Saharan African
Wales for Africa Programme
Size of Wales Project
Mbale Coalition Against Poverty;
Mbale,Manafwa and Bududa District Councils;
NGOs: Salem, Bunkoko Rural Development’ Centre and ‘Share An Opportunity’;
Gumutiondo Coffee Co-op Ltd;
Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD)