Ethiopia has broken a world record for the most trees planted in a 24-hour period after reports show the East African nation has planted more than 350-million seedlings in a day under its new Green Legacy initiative, aiming to plant 2.6-billion seedlings in a year.
The effort was spearheaded by Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who launched the project ‘Green Legacy’ last month. According to a report from Xinhua, “the ambitious initiative is part of the Ethiopian government’s aspiration to plant 4-billion trees during the second half of the current Ethopian physical year.”
The government is hoping that each Ethopian citizen will plant at least 40 trees during the campaign. For the record attempt, some public offices shut for the day, meaning public employees were able to take part in the planting record.
According to The BBC, “the UN says Ethiopia’s forest coverage declined 35% of total land in the early 20th century to little above 4% in the 2000s.”
The Xinhua report quoted a worker called Benti, who said that “as a bus driver, with frequent trips across the country, I have witnessed the extent of deforestation in different parts of Ethiopia [first hand].”
“It’s really frustrating to see forest-covered areas turned to bare lands within a few years,” Benti added. “This is a great opportunity for me and fellow Ethiopians to contribute to our country’s better future towards a green and environmentally well-positioned Ethiopia,” emphasising the pressing issue of deforestation for the nation.
The record for tree planting in a single day was previously held by India, who planted 50-million trees thanks to 800,000 volunteers. According to statistics published by the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture that claims 2.6-billion seedlings have been planted since the initiative was launched three-months ago.
The initiative has received support from the United Nations, as well as the World Food Programme, who said the campaign is “critical for Ethiopia which had lost billions of trees and forest resources over the years.”
Paul Turnbull, WFP Deputy Country Director to Ethiopia says that because of the fact that Ethiopia has lost “so many trees for various reasons,” he emphasised the “need to keep planting trees to recover lost forest resources.”
The Xinhua report also quoted a primary school teacher called Natnael Tsegaye, who said “it is an important initiative.”
“Such initiatives are powerful enough to set an example to Ethiopia’s next generation regarding the significance of tackling deforestation and building resilience against climate change.”
“While more than 60 percent of the Green Legacy target has already been met,” Xinhua says, “the ministry also on Friday announced the successful distribution of 200 million seedlings throughout the country, most of which are said to be indigenous tree species.”
Some remain critical of Prime Minister Abiy’s campaign, who say that he is “using the campaign to distract the public from the challenges his government is facing, including ethnic conflicts which have forced some 2.5-million people from their home,” according to the BBC’s reporting.