The importance of trees is undeniable for the entire planet. They improve air quality, conserve water, provide oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, preserve the soil, ameliorate the climate, and support wildlife.
However, deforestation is a huge problem in numerous countries across the world and usually happens due to the personal needs of locals, like hunting, agriculture, fuel, and even for religious reasons, at times.
To combat the negative effects of deforestation in their country and prevent climate change, last year, Ethiopian officials reported that they have planted around 350 million trees in a single day, which could possibly be the new world record.
The campaign was a part of a national initiative to grow 4 billion trees throughout the country during “the rainy season”, which is between May and October.
Three days before the event, volunteers across the country were given the seedlings, many of which were of an indigenous species, but there were also fruit trees like the avocado.
The seedlings being planted by volunteers were counted by officials.
Public offices even had days off, so that civil servants can participate, and each citizen was encouraged to plant at least 40 seedlings.
People were advised to devote to planting and caring for the trees by state-run media, and employees from foreign embassies in Ethiopia, and international and regional organizations took part in the project as well.
The exercise, dubbed the Green Legacy Initiative, was led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and happened across 1,000 different locations.
The news that in only 12 hours, they managed to plant 350 million trees came via a tweet by Ethiopia’s Minister of Innovation and Technology Getahun Mekuria.
353,633,660 TREE SEEDLINGS IN 12Hours#GreenLegacyEthiopia#PMOEthiopia pic.twitter.com/TewfqNzXMN
— Dr.-Ing. Getahun Mekuria (@DrGetahun) July 29, 2019
If proven, it will break the previous world record which stands at 50 million trees planted in India in 2016. Plus, that will mean that it has surpassed the Green Legacy goal, conceived by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, of planting 200 million trees in a day at over 1,000 sites.
According to the UN, since the early 1900s, Ethiopia’s forest coverage has precipitously declined from 35 percent of total land to barely 4 percent in the 2000s.
Because 80% of Ethiopia’s population depends on agriculture as a livelihood, these numbers are devastating.
Moreover, the country is also affected by the effects of the climate crisis, soil erosion, deforestation, land degradation, recurrent droughts, and flooding exacerbated by agriculture.
According to Bekele Benti, a bus driver in the country’s capital Addis Ababa:
“As a bus driver, with frequent trips across the country, I have witnessed the extent of deforestation in different parts of Ethiopia. It’s really frustrating to see forest-covered areas turned to be bare lands within a few years.
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.”
According to officials, this initiative will have numerous benefits, like improved living conditions, climate stability, and rebuilt agricultural plots and rural economies. It will also support social development and will encourage Ethiopians to remain at home.
According to the World Food Programme, the initiative is “critical for Ethiopia which had lost billions of trees and forest resources over the years.”
#GreenLegacy is to deliver #GreenEthiopia for generations to come.Let’s also #PlantOurPrint for a #CivilizedCitizenLegacy by planting Positivity,Love,Unity,Patriotism, Genuineness,Hard working, Wisdom,Integrity…to pass #AdvancedEthiopia 🚀💡🔭for generations.#InfluenceEthiopia pic.twitter.com/ugn9kOl4wX
— Minota Matewos (@minotamatewos) July 29, 2019
Dan Ridley-Ellis, the head of the Centre for Wood Science and Technology at Edinburgh Napier University, explains:
“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.
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.”
Numerous scientists claim that afforestation, or the process of restoring forests in their natural forms, is one of the most efficient ways to combat global warming.
A study published in the journal Science confirmed that these initiatives might be an effective way to reverse climate change.
Researchers at Swiss university ETH Zurich estimated that restoring the world’s lost forests could remove two-thirds of all the planet-warming carbon that is in the atmosphere due to human activity.