Ethiopia plants 350m trees in a day to help tackle climate crisis

The Guardian

National ‘green legacy’ initiative aims to reduce environmental degradation

About 350m trees have been planted in a single day in Ethiopia, according to a government minister.

The planting is part of a national “green legacy” initiative to grow 4bn trees in the country this summer by encouraging every citizen to plant at least 40 seedlings. Public offices have reportedly been shut down in order for civil servants to take part.

The project aims to tackle the effects of deforestation and climate change in the drought-prone country. According to the UN, Ethiopia’s forest coverage was just 4% in the 2000s, down from 35% a century earlier.

Ethiopia’s minister of innovation and technology, Dr Getahun Mekuria, tweeted estimates of the number of trees planted throughout the day. By early evening on Monday, he put the number at 353m.

The previous world record for the most trees planted in one day stood at 50m, held by India since 2016.

Dr Dan Ridley-Ellis, the head of the centre for wood science and technology at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “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.”

As the crisis escalates…

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  1. Ethiopian population census count was postponed for the third time due to “security” concerns.

    Many say the forestation of City of Addis Ababa and city of Dire Dawa surroundings is given more especial attention so that Querro Oromos live in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa surrounding forests by receiving Addis Ababa’s and Dire Dawa’s ID cards they can vote with, at the next election which is likely to be postponed until these trees grow up.

  2. What an accomplishment!!! Even if only half of these trees take roots it will go a long way in rehabbing the badly scarred landscape. Man dilapidated it and it is man and only man who should and can return the land to its lost glory one tree at a time. Such valuable effort should be on on-going basis where other mini planting runs can be organized in every locality. Kudos!!!!

  3. Another Abiy’s showmanship in a nation on the brink of civil war because of inter and entra – ethnic conflicts and violations of democratic and human rights of citizens. Showmanship because it’s intended to impress foreign elements such as the UN, UNEP, UNDP, UNFP, etc. etc. by presenting Abiy as someone concerned with climate change. I doubt if he can impress the international community with his showmanship on this issue.

    Assuming that Abiy has impressed the international community with tree planting there are certain things it cannot be blinded from observing. With the federal prosecution office part of the federal government (the same at regions), the federal and regional police working with these offices, trumped up charges are clogging the criminal justice system. The judiciary being an appendage of the government – with no motivation to assert its independence – so many politicians and journalists are to be locked up for a long time. The international community has already raise its voice on this problem. My guess is it will continue to do so.

    While the country finds itself in this grim reality, we’re being told, it might make it to the Genius Book in tree planting. In a country where the people are 99% dependent on wood as a source of fuel energy, what does more planting of trees mean? I mean unless the country comes up with another source of fuel to reduce or eliminate dependence on wood.

    Some countries have given priority to electrification and extensive use of solar panels to generate energy for fuel for households. In a country where electricity is rationed and solar panels are not available, the role of tree planting on the climate is minimal. People will cut them for fuel.

    It’s not only for fuel that wood is needed in the country, construction of all kinds – high rise buildings, bridges, private houses, etc need use for scaffolding. No country except ours use wood for scaffolding. On top of that, most office and household furniture are made of wood. Unless all these change to steel and other composite materials, tree planting only feeds the same construction practices. So, Abiy’s adventure might simply perpetuate the same practice than introduce the desired change.

    At the end of the day, it’s not how many trees are planted but how many grew to give the intended result. I feel that Genius Book should go by how many grows than by how many are planted. There is little or no water in Ethiopia. Seasonal rains are not enough.

    Don’t get me wrong. Covering the country with trees is not a bad idea, but it needs a comprehensive strategy which lasts for a while with the participation of all parties concerned – from climate change activists to construction companies and from consumers to the general public. Ironically, this includes dealing with an impending civil war because of inter and entra – ethnic conflicts and violations of democratic and civil rights of citizens.

    Until this happens, the entire exercise remains Abiy’s showmanship intended to impress foreign elements.

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