Ethiopia planted more than 350 million trees in just one day, a feat which officials believe a new world record but also a significant step towards the fight against climate change.
Getahun Mekuria, Ethiopia’s Minister of Innovation and Technology, confirmed the news on Twitter where he said that more than 350 million trees were planted in 12 hours.
It was unclear how many people actually went and showed their support toward the tree planting initiative, but other than the regular Ethiopians, various international organizations and business leaders have joined the cause.
Some public offices have even been closed for the day to encourage civil servants to take part in the event.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told fellow Ethiopians to “go out and make your mark,” as he planted his tree in the southern city of Arba Minch.
There we’re even promotional videos seen on state media urging the public to plant and emphasize the value of trees, especially in today’s climate.
However, it was not stated whether the Guinness World Records were monitoring Ethiopia’s mass planting scheme. The prime minister’s office said that a specially developed software is helping with the count, and officials were assigned to determine the seedlings planted by volunteers.
Today’s numbers are also said to overtake India’s 50 million trees planted in a day record set in 2016.
“Today, Ethiopia is set in our attempt to break the world record together for a green legacy,” Prime Minister Abiy’s office said in a Twitter post on Monday.
Green Legacy Initiative is the Prime Minister’s ambitious goal of reforming the country’s landscape for a greener and more sustainable future for all Ethiopians, which officials say is being eaten away by climate change and deforestation.
Other than setting a new world record, Abiy’s Green Legacy aims to contribute to the global efforts of mitigating the carbon footprint caused by human-made sources, particularly targeting the alarmingly high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
With Prime Minister Abiy taking the lead, his project, which launched in May, will see the planting of a total of four billion indigenous trees across Ethiopia by October. So far, over 2.6 billion trees have planted, according to agriculture officials.
Today, the country saw how the Green Legacy Initiative surpassed its initial goal of planting 200 million trees in a single day at 1,000 sites across the drought-prone country.
The momentous event proves that Abiy’s goal is not an impossible one but is quite easily achievable if everyone puts in the effort and contribute to the cause.
Earlier in July, Swiss scientists published a study in the journal Science saying that the most effective way to fight global warming was to plant one trillion trees.
The report said that over the decades, those new trees could suck up nearly 750 billion tonnes of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
That is about as much carbon pollution as humans have spewed in the last 25 years.
The United Nations says Ethiopia’s forest coverage declined from 35 percent of the total land in the early 20th Century. Furthermore, Africa’s second-most populous nation with 100 million people, had a forest cover of just 14 percent of its territory in 2018, according to the United Nations.
Ethiopia’s rapidly growing population and the need for more farmlands, unsustainable forest use and climate change is often cited as the causes for rapid deforestation.
Particularly for the Horn of Africa nation, it has been suffering from years of drought, and rare blessings of rain, which the United Nations says has left some 3.8 million people in immediate need for assistance.
In other instances, it has forced the country to start rationing power on May due to low-water levels at the Gibe 3 hydro-electric dam and discontinued power export to neighboring Sudan and Djibouti.
Fortunately, Farm Africa, an organization involved in Ethiopian forest management, reported that less than 4 percent of the country’s land is now forested, a sharp decline from UN statistics.
Meanwhile, other critics suggest that Abiy is using the initiative to distract people from other problems, including ethnic conflicts which have displaced around 2.5 million people.