Landscape-you cannot escape it!
I am a young Ugandan lawyer passionate about Human rights, good governance and development. All that I do is to defend humanity. Located in the East African region, Uganda is a beautiful country with natural vegetation and warm people. Growing up in the rural area, I understood what the grasslands, hillsides, flowing streams meant to me. For me, they were some the best parts of life; I grew up knowing that living in such a beautiful environment must be everyone’s dream. While at home, we were a little fortunate to have three cows in our compound! I enjoyed watching them graze on the green grass and I also shared their pain when the grass dried out and they had to either wait for long to get grass from elsewhere or simply feed on alternatives such as artificial animal feeds. The rainy seasons were the most celebrated times as the community happily planted their seeds in the soil with the faith of harvesting in three to four months or longer, depending on what was planted.
Given my immense love for nature, I developed passion to do whatever is possible within my means to protect it! Fortunately for me, my dad who is a forester and landscape designer and understood the value of trees and the environment fanned my passion for landscapes. He taught me not to cut down a tree with no reason or with no plan to replace it with another. He also taught me the names of different trees, their growth mechanisms and my love for trees grew day by day. As a result, it upsets me each time a tree was cut down without an explanation – even when the explanation was that another was to be planted! Moreover, whenever there were bushfires, my first thoughts are of the animals, and what becomes of their grazing lands.
On getting into high school, I joined wildlife and environment clubs where I was active in efforts directed at protecting the environment. I was the president of one of the Wildlife/Environment clubs in the school during which I started the “go green campaign”, which aimed at making sure the school compound was green and clean, planted woodlots for the school as well trees for shade. This went on well and I am happy that my efforts are still visible!
When it was time to go to university, I chose law because I wanted to understand my rights so that I can then be a voice for the voiceless. It is amazing that the trees I planted contributed to my tuition! Even after my four years of study at the University, I continue to support my family by establishing a tree seedlings business. We planted a garden where we raise the seedlings for sale and for our own woodlot. From this, we have supplied over two million seedlings and planted over 50 hectares of our own trees!
Understanding landscapes is a very important aspect of what I do. It helps to appreciate the environment and in turn to conserve one of its most vital resources from depletion. I believe the landscape approach is a good way of assessing and protecting the environment. It provides a comprehensive understanding of the environment we live in. Therefore, I am glad that I will be joining the team of young innovators for this year’s Global Landscapes Forum Youth Program and I am sure that I will learn lots of things and also share my experience with the rest of team.
Michael Aboneka is one of the 10 young champions who will work on the “ Measuring success ” Landscape challenge with Youth program’s partner: UNEP-DHI.
Learn more about the Global Landscapes Forum’s Youth program, meet our 50 youth champions and discover the 5 Landscapes challenges they will take up, in December, in Paris.