By: Mpho Shelile  

We live in an era influenced by humans to the point that the Earth’s ecosystem is altered. Climate change is driving an unprecedented number of extreme climatic events and trees serve a greater purpose with their existence since they are vital for our survival.

Last week Friday marked a momentous occasion at Ha Ntsi, Machache, where Vodacom Lesotho VCL ingrained 12,000 seedlings of (cheche). VCL, joined by Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA), contributed 500 seedlings, Lesotho Defence Force Youth Boot Camp, Limomonane Trust, United Nations and the Ha Ntsi community, demonstrated a collective spirit and commitment to creating a greener and healthier environment for future generations.

Green revolutions often involve sustainable and eco-friendly practices aimed at environmental conservation and community development. VCL believes that urgent and sustained action is required to address the climate emergency, which business success should not come at a cost to the environment, for this reason they are committed to ensuring a greener future where climate change does not threaten our existence. Therefore, today’s activity is a significant step towards restoring and preserving Lesotho’s natural ecosystem.

Tree growing is an essential way countries across the globe are doing to avert the harsh impacts of climate change. We have seen the damage it wrought upon us in the form of super typhoons, monsoon rains, landslides, and erratic weather conditions. Trees highly contribute to a clean environment as they improve air quality through the process of photosynthesis – producing oxygen and taking in carbon dioxide. It also filters air intercepting unhealthy particles by removing dust and absorbing pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide and letting the rain wash them off.

Speaking at the event, Chief Libe Thamae of Ha Ntsi acknowledged Vodacom for choosing his community to implement this important project and choosing to part take such a crucial role in promoting environmental sustainability and overall well-being. He appealed to community members to nurture and tend the trees until they have matured into large shrubs so that they can derive benefits from them. “Green revolutions often involve sustainable and eco-friendly practices aimed at environmental conservation and community development. I want you to take care of these trees and let other communities see that Ha- Ntsi is a green led community.”

On behalf of Vodacom, the External Affairs and Public Policy Manager, Katleho Pefole indicated that Basotho are all familiar with the effects of deforestation, especially in recent years. Globally, the effects of deforestation have taken their toll on our planet and impacted negatively against climate change. 
“With this campaign, we join other organizations and communities to clothe our barren land while also fighting climate change, land degradation, and desertification. We thank all our partners for leaving their busy schedule to join us today. We make a special appeal to the community to water these trees and protect them from vandalism.”

Today’s event is part of Vodacom Lesotho’s one-million-trees campaign which started in 2021 and aligns perfectly with its purpose and social contract to save the planet.  The hope is that planting millions of trees will absorb tons of CO2, help combat climate change, prevent thousands of storm water runoff –reducing the risks of floods and protecting the land.

Speaking for the partners, LHDA’s Public Relations Manager, Mpho Brown said they were happy to be part of the tree planting initiative because it aligned well with their organization’s ongoing efforts to preserve and conserve the environment, from which the water they harness under the Lesotho Highlands Water Project come.”

“There is no doubt that engaging in tree planting activities strengthens the communities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants to our tree planting activities were reduced to observe social distancing and health protocols. But it is important to still take good care of our shelter by continuing to plant new seedlings that will help us attain a sustainable future,” said Brown.

He further added that the earth is losing trees at an alarming rate, especially in the Global South. According to a report by the UN, South America, and Africa have suffered greatly from deforestation. “Deforestation can have significant and far-reaching impacts on our communities, affecting both the environment and the people who depend on it. There are communities that still depend on forest resources, many communities especially in the lowlands of Lesotho still use wood, so we are basically dependent on forests for our livelihoods.”  

Mpho concluded by reminding all villagers that forestation requires a multi-faceted approach, including sustainable land-use practices, conservation efforts, their engagement, and policy measures to promote responsible forestry practices and to look forward to a greener future where a tree can be cut down and there would be no drastic weather conditions.