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Uganda's world record tree hugger planting seeds for change

Hillary Ayesinga in Uganda | Christina Küfner
April 22, 2024

Ugandan climate activist Patricia Ariokot set a Guinness World Record for the longest tree hug. Her feat wasn't a stunt: she's raising awareness for trees' vital role in mental and environmental health.


A lightning strike ended Patricia Ariokot's first attempt to break the world record for the longest tree hug. But the Ugandan climate activist was successful the second time, entering the Guinness Book of World Records when she hugged a tree for 16 hours.

Her feat was not a publicity stunt but an effort to raise awareness for Uganda's growing deforestation problem. According to Global Forest Watch, Uganda lost more than 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres) of tree cover from deforestation between 2001 and 2022. 

Ariokot is also promoting tree preservation by making plantable pencils — wooden pencils filled with tree seeds. She regularly does community outreaches, mainly in schools in eastern Uganda.

"It’s very important that they understand the challenge they are about to take on," she said. "So this particular pencil, it has seeds inside, and they are using it to study, but at the end of the day, it is going to translate into a tree. A tree was cut, and a tree is going to be planted. That’s what I want them to understand basically from this."