URGENT NEED FOR LANDSCAPE RESTORATION

An exclusive interview with Brenda Nanyonga of FFP

With the UN-Decade on Ecosystem Restoration launched mid this year, a team of young people in Uganda has started a drive to bring about transformational changes to address the climate and ecological emergency facing the world. Writing enthusiast and Connie-Lines CEO, Connie Olives caught up with Ms. Brenda Mukasa, the Chief Operations Officer at Flight Free Projects to share about their recent tree planting activities and mission.
Below are the excerpts from the interview:

In a nutshell, tell us about Flight Free Projects:

Flight Free Projects is a Community Based Organization initiated by a team of young people in Uganda and Seniors Without Borders in Denmark. We are powered by a mission of building climate-resilient communities through fostering mitigation and adaptation initiatives like tree planting.

Tell us about today’s tree planting activity and why you chose this area.

The FFP team launches the initiative at Mr.  Ssemwanga's farm in Nakaseke, Central Uganda
The FFP team launches the initiative at Mr. Ssemwanga’s farm in Nakaseke, Central Uganda

Today’s activity is the first of our tree planting program. A total of 700 trees (500 Maesopsis eminii and 200 Grevillea robusta) have been planted with three farmers. We chose this particular area because the rate of deforestation is quite high; along the way to this point, the sight of fallen trees gave us a somber mood. The task ahead is huge; because we don’t only have to plant trees, but also help people understand that the only way we can thrive is by allowing nature to flourish.

There are bigger drivers of climate change like the use of fossil fuels, why do you choose to focus on deforestation?

Sites of deforestation
Sites of deforestation like this one are not uncommon in the area

Our team is comprised of professional young people who represent us on all fronts of the fight against climate change; we have participated in climate strikes and demanded for action at different levels. What makes tree planting unique is that it’s something we can do immediately; it’s one of the cheapest and easiest ways we can restore our landscapes, mitigate climate change and build resilience for our people.

Where do you see this initiative in 5 years?

Mr. Ssemwanga and the FFP team fully immersed in the tree planting activity
Mr. Ssemwanga and the FFP team fully immersed in the tree planting activity

We want to see communities we have worked with green, resilient and happy. With that, we hope to scale and start operating at the national level. Uganda has pledged to restore 2.5m hectares of land as part of the Bonn Challenge, and we want our numbers to contribute to this significantly.

What advice do you have for people out there especially young people on the environment and climate change?

A young volunteer giving life to a tree on planting day
A young volunteer giving life to a tree on planting day

Climate change will make or continue breaking us. I prefer to look at the opportunities it presents to young people; if we choose to look away, the planet will break! The best option we have is to innovate and take up opportunities climate change presents. Everyone can do something in their locale; this is what will constitute global change.

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