16-year-old climate activist on a tree replanting mission in Uganda

Bare land is common in Uganda’s forests. Since the 1990s, the forest coverage rate has dropped from 24% to 8%. According to the Global Forest Watch, this is a problem around the world. In 2020 alone, more than 12 million hectares of trees were lost in the tropics. 

And so one young activist is fighting back. The 16-year-old Lean Namugerwa is on an afforestation mission in her country.

“I planted 200 trees to celebrate my birthday in 2019. Namugerwa said: “I was 15 years old at that time and I did again last year when I was turning 16-years old and I planted 500 trees”, Namugerwa said. 

“This mission inspires her colleagues. Today, she’s joined by Leticia Namulwana. The young women set out to plant more trees in the Entebbe forest and took a short photo shoot to capture the future generations. 

“Leah inspired me because I met her on social media, then we had a conversation, and then she directed me on how to reach her and planted trees,” Namurwana said. 

The initiative of young activists proved to be a source of inspiration outside of Uganda. Leah uses her social media power to encourage other young people to plant trees regularly when celebrating their birthdays. 

“People are accepting this green idea from all over the world in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia. I have received requests from others to take on this green idea. I have planted trees for the ambassadors,” the 16-year-old climate activist added. Her goal of one million trees-still has a long way to go. But with every new planting session, more and more people follow in her footsteps. “Every time we hold an event, we teach people. We sensitive people of the danger. For example, if we clean and purify the lake, you will understand that people will continue to join you and will no longer pollute the lake.”Every time I plant trees, more and more people help me plant trees, which shows that my activism is impacting the country and the world”, project participants said.

Leah is getting her environmental message out with an everyday initiative referred to as Fridays for Future. It entails lake shore clean ups, planting trees together, spreading attention in schools and climate strikes.