Rapid deforestation and higher temperatures are melting iconic snow at an alarming rate on Africa’s highest peak. This is the bitter observation of a Tanzanian charity which wants to plant 50 million trees for massive greening on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Through a pioneering reforestation campaign, the conservation charity based in northern Tanzania has a mission to preserve the diverse ecosystems of Mount Kilimanjaro, which are increasingly threatened by illegal activities and wildfires.
The rapid deforestation of Africa’s highest peak has caused higher temperatures that have melted its iconic snow cap at an alarming rate. Human activities, including illegal logging, such as agriculture and charcoal making, are responsible for the deforestation around Kilimanjaro. Residents are trying to meet growing energy needs.
To restore the decline in vegetation and the drop in temperatures responsible for melting glaciers, the initiative called “Trees 4 Kili” has set itself the long-term goal of planting 50 million trees.
The main objective of this campaign is to educate and empower the local community to stop over-cutting of trees and all overgrazing activities, which caused lower rainfall, increased temperatures and subsequent glacial decline, said Jeremy Lowney, the founding director of the charity.
Launched in 2018, the Trees 4 Kili project was set up to fight against environmental degradation in Kilimanjaro by mobilizing residents to plant trees and restore vegetation.
As part of this initiative, the association strives to raise awareness and make the community aware of the value or importance of trees and the sustainable protection of forests.
Environmental destruction is the main reason for the vulnerability to climate change of Kilimanjaro, which is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) above sea level.
Project coordinator Thomas Munuo showed that the mission of the tree planting campaign is to reverse increasing rates of desertification and deliver invaluable benefits to communities and the environment.
“We are happy to work with the community and local authorities to find a creative solution to this problem,” he said.
Munuo said that as part of this initiative to restore the faded glory of Kilimanjaro, they have already successfully planted more than 6 million trees. He also lamented the disruption of rainfall patterns and the discouragement of farmers who now experience long periods of drought due to the random felling of trees in Kilimanjaro.
The promoters of this project claim that tree planting is an effective solution to the potential risk of flooding. For them, planting trees slows the flow of water and acts as a buffer against agricultural pollution and purifies the water.
Known for its breathtaking attractions including stunning landscapes dotted with wildlife, waterfalls and a rich cultural heritage, the Kilimanjaro region is considered one of Africa’s top tourist destinations.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020, Tanzania, with 33 million hectares of forest and woodland, loses more than 400,000 hectares each year, and this for two decades.
This charity stressed that this project would be a step in the right direction to fight against climate change and wildfires caused by higher temperatures which thus accelerate the destruction of forests.