Ethiopia unites in record-breaking tree-planting campaign

2 Aug 2019

353 million trees planted in one day as part of efforts to curb climate change and deforestation

In an unparalleled move to go greener, Ethiopia made history by planting 353,633,660 million trees in the space of just 12 hours, on 29th June, setting a new world record.

Spurred on by the Prime Minister, who kicked off the day by planting trees in the south of the country, Ethiopians from all walks of life, young and old, came together as part of a national movement to restore forests, and to combat effects of climate change and environmental degradation.

Prime Minister Abiy plants a tree in Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regional State, Ethiopia

In addition to ordinary Ethiopians, the diplomatic corps, various international organisations, and the business community also joined in the tree-planting campaign. Public offices and schools were closed in order to allow maximum participation.

The British Ambassador to Ethiopia, Alastair McPhail plants a tree. The UK has been supporting the planting of an estimated 95 million trees through its contribution to the Productive Safety Net Programme.

The tree-planting challenge initially aimed to plant 200 million trees across identified sites in nine regional states. Ethiopia’s Minister of Innovation and Technology, Dr Getahun Mekuria, tweeted estimates of the number of trees planted throughout the day. By 11.22am local time, more than 67 million trees were planted, breaking the world record held by India. And by 3:00 pm local time, the 200 million target was surpassed.

This ambitious tree-planting drive is part of Prime Minister Abiy’s #GreenLegacy Initiative which aims to plant 4 billion trees (40 trees per person) across the length and breadth of Ethiopia by the end the rainy season in October. Since the launch of the programme in May, almost 3 billion trees have been planted.

According to UN figures, forest coverage in Ethiopia fell to a little over 4% during the 2000s, down from 35% in the early 20thcentury.

Ethiopian Airlines staff plant trees at their headquarters in Addis Ababa

This tree-planting exercise is a step in the right direction, going a long way in the battle to restore Ethiopia’s forests. While similar nationwide campaigns have taken place in the past on an ad hoc basis, this year’s meticulously planned and executed campaign epitomises the best of mass participation for a sacred cause.

“Great Things Happen When We Work Together.”

 

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