New Forest Twins: York, UK = Masaka, Uganda

Following a lecture at Bootham School to the York and District branch of the Geographical Association by Tom Bliss of the United Bank of Carbon, the branch very kindly raised a sum of £600, to be split 50/50 to support tree planting in the tropics and the UK.

As Tom had explained in his talk, the United Bank of Carbon (UBoC) promotes the twinning of woodlands in the UK (temperate forest) and Africa, (tropical forest) because each biome offers unique and complementary benefits, both for the climate and for local communities. Tropical trees work harder to fix CO2 than UK trees, while offering many social and other benefits for local people and wildlife, and UK trees offer key engagement features for UK donors, while also delivering valuable carbon and other benefits. So a donation allowing the creation of a new twinning was a perfect outcome for UBoC.


Inquiries with UBoC’s partner, the International Tree Foundation (ITF), delivered a proposal by Paul Laird for planting in Uganda, where UBoC already supports a number of forests. The Masaka District LandCare Chapter (MADLACC) has been doing excellent work with Primary schools around Masaka on the shores of Lake Victoria.

The children establish tree nurseries and grow trees on the school compound, and the schools become a learning place not only for the children but also their parents.  In effect the children teach their parents to plant trees.  The parents get a small number of trees from the school tree nurseries to plant on their own farms, and the children monitor the trees and report back to the head teacher.  MADLACC maintain a minimal project approach making good use of the skills of local agriculture and education staff.  The school staff report that involvement in these activities and improved nutrition from the fruit trees and gardens also help children achieve better education results.

Mathias Wakulira, who runs the project, suggested that the funds should promote planting of Moringa oleifera.  The leaves, seeds and seed pods of this species make excellent and very nutritional vegetables, and the seed oil is widely used in cosmetics and skin creams.  It is relatively new to the Masaka area, but will grow well in local conditions.

Picture reference, not the source of our trees:

  £300 will deliver 2,600 Moringa oleifera trees, planted in school compounds and on farms.


Rufforth to Acomb Sustrans Route

Discussions with Treemendous York delivered a proposal to support tree planting on the Rufforth to Acomb access and leisure route, helping to increase the use and other features of the Sustrans Cycle and walking green corridor.

This project started in 2002, following advice by Sustrans, COYC & Yorwaste to prepare a Master Plan to support further funding to complete the Rural West bridleway route for walking and cycling and to enhance green space. The scheme specifically targets Climate Change mitigation and a reduction of York’s ecological footprint. It also promotes of the benefits of exercise with walking and cycling, and enables education on better health and wellbeing, plus greater accessibility, the easing of congestion, and a reduction of air pollution and related NHS costs.               £250 will deliver around 60 trees, including materials and costs.

Edible York Patchwork Orchard

Treemendous York also suggested that the branch might like to support the planting of fruit trees in Bishophill, just inside the city walls near Dewsbury Terrace and Lower Priory Street.  Fruit trees tend to grow more slowly than some other species, and tend to be smaller at maturity, thus sequestering slightly less carbon in all, but orchards offer many benefits over other species including strong pollinator support, fruit crops and community cohesion.

This scheme is the early stages: If all goes to plan, £50 should pay for at least two trees. If not, this money will be diverted to the Rufforth – Acomb scheme, where it should bring the total up to about 70 trees.

Liz Brown, chair of the York and District Branch of the GA said: We were absolutely delighted to host a lecture from Tom Bliss, and following his inspirational presentation on the work of the United Bank of Carbon we felt the least we could do was to examine our finances and see if we could make a donation. The professional and efficient service from Tom in finding the right projects to give us a great carbon sequestering return for our money has been fantastic and we are excited about both projects. Thanks to all our members whose membership fees over the years have now been converted into trees – fees to trees, you can’t do anything better in my opinion!

Paul Laird from ITF said, “International Tree Foundation supports many small-scale community based projects across Africa. This Tree Planting for Poverty Reduction and Improved Livelihoods Project is outstanding in the way it brings together teachers, children, parents and government staff, in their schools and farms, in a very simple and enjoyable way to achieve multiple objectives’

 John Cossham said, “I help with both Treemendous and Edible York so was delighted to have the opportunity to organise an addition to the Patchwork Orchard. Now with the offer of some funding from the Geographical Association, part of the ‘who pays for this?’ is solved. As a cyclist, I love it that there’s a new cycle track between Acomb and Rufforth, and having patches of woodland and hedges alongside this will enhance this. Treemendous York are very grateful for this help to get more trees planted.

Tom Bliss said: “I was absolutely delighted when the York and District Branch of the GA responded so quickly and so generously to my suggestion that we all need to be planting a LOT more trees – and ideally some in the tropics, where they’ll deal with the most carbon, and some locally so that donors can help plant them. I’m most grateful to Paul Laird from ITF and John Cossham from Treemendous York for coming up with such ideal schemes so promptly, but above all to Liz Brown and the branch for their generosity. From branch to branches, in fact! If we allow a conservative estimate of 15 trees per tonne of CO2e (to allow for typical losses), they should eventually withdraw around 170 tonnes of CO2e from the atmosphere. (If all the trees did manage to reach maturity, it would in theory come to well over 2,000 tonnes).