On Monday, Ethiopia planted more than 350 million trees in 12 hours in a national wide campaign led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed meant to tackle the effects of deforestation and climate change in the drought-prone country.
Ethiopia’s minister of innovation and technology, Dr. Getahun Mekuria, tweeted that the country had successfully managed to plant 353 million trees throughout the day.
Public offices have reportedly been shut down in order for civil servants to take part. Staff from the United Nations, African Union and foreign embassies in Ethiopia have also been taking part in the exercise.
The planting is part of Mr Abiy’s national ‘green legacy’ initiative which strives to grow 4 billion trees in the country this summer by encouraging every citizen to plant at least 40 seedlings. The campaign is taking place in 1,000 sites across the country.
Ethiopia’s feat has shattered the current World Record for planting trees in a single day held by India, which used 800,000 volunteers to plant more than 50 million trees in 2016.
According to the UN, Ethiopia’s forest coverage was just 4% in the 2000s, down from 35% a century earlier.
“Trees not only help mitigate climate change by absorbing the carbon dioxide in the air, but they also have huge benefits in combating desertification and land degradation, particularly in arid countries. They also provide food, shelter, fuel, fodder, medicine, materials and protection of the water supply,” The Guardian quoted Dr Dan Ridley-Ellis, the head of the centre for wood science and technology at Edinburgh Napier University as saying.
“This truly impressive feat is not just the simple planting of trees, but part of a huge and complicated challenge to take account of the short- and long-term needs of both the trees and the people. The forester’s mantra ‘the right tree in the right place’ increasingly needs to consider the effects of climate change, as well as the ecological, social, cultural and economic dimension.”