Biathlon Climate Challenge trees being planted in Uganda

It has now been two months since the second Biathlon Climate Challenge (BCC) was completed after reaching its goal of 50’000 trees. Led by eight athlete team leaders including Marketa Davidova of the Czech Republic and Quentin Fillon Maillet of France, almost 4’000 fans became active in earning trees through their exercise that was recorded via the ViMove app provided by IBU’s long-term partner Viessmann. Indeed, the participating biathlon fans covered an accumulative distance of 654’559 km running, cycling and more, as well as spending a total of 10.618 hours doing other types of exercise such as yoga and fitness.

Supported by the BCC, the IBU’s partner TIST is now planting one-half of the trees, i.e.25’000 trees, in certified reforestation projects in Uganda. After supporting various reforestation projects around the world, Viessmann acquired its own forests in 2021 and took the responsibility of planting the other 25’000 trees on its 1’700 hectares in Finland and Canada.

Trees and leadership in Uganda

Uganda, a country in central Africa, has been part of TIST since 2003. The goal of TIST, which is short for The International Small Group & Tree Planting (TIST) Program is to grow both trees and leaders. Nowadays the TIST Farmers receive Profit Share as income. They have also embraced other activities like Conservation Farming, the construction of energy-saving stoves, and the increase in fruit trees which has changed the people's livelihood. 

Climate change in the northern regions of Uganda negatively affects food and water security and livelihoods. Therefore, with the help of local coordinators known as Cluster Servants, the TISTProgram encourages communities to grow more trees, train farmers and community members on agroforestry, Conservation Farming, and how to construct energy-saving stoves to reduce the current rate of tree cutting. This is done with the aim of contributing to the overall goal of mitigating the adverse effects of climate change.

With the help of TIST, many farmers are taught better land management in order to increase overall crop yields. Many farmers are improving their livelihood, reducing fuel-wood consumption, and experiencing many other benefits.

Tom’s story

Mutambuka Tom Tibeijuka is one of the farmers in Uganda. Since he joined TIST he has gained more knowledge about conservation farming. He is growing his own coffee, maize and climbing beans.

”The money I receive has helped me pay school fees for my children, buy more land, and plant more trees. When I prune my trees, we can use the sticks for climbing bean plants. The community also gets firewood by thinning the trees.Because we plant trees, my community is getting shelter to rear their cows, goats, sheep, rabbits, and hens. We can also get manure from the tree leaves when they fall off and decompose.”

Since they have started to grow trees the landslides, as well as the soil erosion, have stopped and they are no longer experiencing prolonged drought.

Climate-neutral Summer Biathlon World Championships

The IBU is also working with the organizers of the Summer Biathlon World Championships in Ruhpolding which hosted the conclusion of the Biathlon Climate Challenge to measure the carbon footprint of the summer event. By the end of 2022, the IBU will offset the residual emissions left after the emission reduction measures at the event to ensure that the event is climate neutral.

The Biathlon Climate Challenge was launched as part of the IBU’s Sustainability Strategy 2020-2030 which commits the IBU to address sustainability in five different areas: climate, sport, people, venue and event, communication and awareness. The IBU’s climate goal is to reduce emissions aligned with the goals of the Paris Climate Accord and to be climate neutral as a sport latest by 2030.

To know more about TIST, click here.

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