Come out of Lockdown and Act for Nature

Through the pandemic, it has become clear that our planet is not a healthy one. Nature is sending us a message.

From Nairobi, rare photographs of skyscrapers framed by the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya have been shared on social media.

The planet has had a pollution holiday. Here in the UK, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air says that levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) dropped by 40% in April and particulate matter by 10%, thanks to the absence of traffic and reduced demand for electricity with factories and businesses closed.

And what about CO2?  According to BBC Science and Environment, “No war, no recession, no previous pandemic has had such a dramatic impact on emissions of CO2 over the past century as COVID-19 has had in a few short months”.

The reduced consumption of fossil fuels has allowed our planet to breathe a little better. Carbon Brief predicts that global emissions will reduce by between 4 and 8% compared with 2019. This translates to between 2 and 3 billion tonnes of CO2 that will not go into our atmosphere.

It will be unrealistic to expect this low energy outcome to be sustained, as countries come out of lockdown. But the carbon seeping into our atmosphere and driving up global temperatures must be contained.

This is why we believe that increasing tree cover is so important. Trees store vast quantities of carbon and play a vital role in the world’s carbon cycle. Planting trees is one of the cheapest and most effective ways for us to mitigate global warming.

CHASE Africa have been supporting tree planting in Kenya for over a decade. But this year, the global lockdown coincided with the long rainy season, when planting normally takes place. Despite restrictions, planting continued with shoestring budgets and dedicated teams.

We help schools and communities to establish their own commercial woodlots, to grow their own supply of timber, poles and fuel, thus protecting indigenous forests. Through our partners, Friends of Mau Watershed, Watersheds Ecosystem Conservation and the Mount Kenya Trust, we have planted over 130,000 trees in more than 220 schools.

In 2016, we also started supporting the Mount Kenya Trust in the restoration of indigenous forests. 66,000 trees have already been planted on 63 hectares on the mountain slopes.

These trees now play a crucial role in protecting fragile ecosystems, contributing to climate change mitigation and supporting local economies.

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We have also partnered with the Trillion Trees Campaign. Run by the NGO Plant for the Planet, it connects those who want to fund tree planting with projects worldwide. So far, projects under the campaign have planted almost 14 billion trees – including some in our projects with Watersheds Ecosystem Conservation and the Mount Kenya Trust. You can find our projects at the Trillion Trees webpage by clicking ‘donate trees’ and searching for ‘community health’.

One thing is for sure, the world needs more trees. Not only to soak up our CO2 emissions, but also to sustain the diversity of species that live in our forests. For World Environment Day this year, we’re asking you to donate for nature and support our tree planting projects!