Home Environment Naalya Motel: Offering guests a forest-friendly stay in Kampala

Naalya Motel: Offering guests a forest-friendly stay in Kampala

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Beyond offering guests a relaxing place in a quiet environment, Mr Nshekanabo’s efforts have also boosted Naalya Motel’s reputation as an environmentally responsible entity. Photo by Gilbert Mwijuke
Beyond offering guests a relaxing place in a quiet environment, Mr Nshekanabo’s efforts have also boosted Naalya Motel’s reputation as an environmentally responsible entity. Photo by Gilbert Mwijuke

Aggrey Nshekanabo remembers how the Kampala suburb of Naalya was about 60 per cent green when he first arrived here in 1998.

“Back then it was a forested area teeming with a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, antelopes and several species of birds – and there were even local huntsmen who used to hunt some wild animals for the pot,” he says. “In fact, this area was so green that it used to be misty in the mornings.”

Today, however, Naalya is now only about 10 per cent green, according to Mr Nshekanabo – degraded by human activity in a space of just about two decades.

World over, deforestation has continued at an alarming rate, destroying habitats for the world’s 80 per cent of land animals and plants and increasing global warming along the way.

And now as the world races to keep global temperature levels within 1.5C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, more and more of us are turning to planting trees wherever we can.

Starting Naalya Motel

Mr Nshekanabo, who started Naalya Motel close to four years ago, is testament that forest-friendly efforts can be achieved even in the smallest of spaces.

The hotelier, who says that he misses the 1990s when he could forage his way through the forests of Naalya, now expresses his love for nature by continuously planting trees, flowers and herbs in all corners of his establishment. He has so far planted trees such as pine, avocado, false banana, palms, bananas and sugarcanes, among others.  

There are also succulents such as the fragrant aralia, California sunset and xanadu, among others, as well as herbs such as common lemon balm and Mexican mint.  

“We decided to make this place green to recapture the past when we used to enjoy the cool breeze from the forests that dominated Naalya in the 1990s,” he says. “Also, nowadays Kampala is very hot and chaotic and many people are looking for green and quiet spaces for the sake of their mental health.”

The trees at Naalya Motel help to purify the air guests breathe by absorbing carbon dioxide and other harmful gases, and then releasing oxygen.   Photo by Gilbert Mwijuke
The trees at Naalya Motel help to purify the air guests breathe by absorbing carbon dioxide and other harmful gases, and then releasing oxygen. Photo by Gilbert Mwijuke

Mr Nshekanabo’s sustainable efforts not only offer his guests a chance to emotionally, spiritually, and physically connect with nature, but have also created a new natural habitat for flora and fauna.

“Sometimes monkeys come around, especially during dry seasons, and there are many species of birds that have now made this place their home. In fact, we are now planning to create some watering points for birds,” he says.

Environmentally responsible entity

Beyond offering guests a relaxing place in a quiet and environment, Mr Nshekanabo’s efforts have also boosted Naalya Motel’s reputation as an environmentally responsible entity.

Trees help to purify the air we breathe by absorbing carbon dioxide and other harmful gases, and then releasing oxygen. They also capture particulate matter, which are tiny particles of dust, smoke and snoot that can cause respiratory problems. They trap these particles on their leaves and bark, and then wash them off when it rains.

Also, since the hotel industry contributes at least one per cent of the total global carbon emissions, planting trees is a good strategy for carbon offsetting as they absorb the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

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