According to Farm Africa, an organization working on reforestation efforts in East Africa and helping farmers out of poverty, less than 4% of Ethiopia’s land is forested, compared to around 30% at the end of the 19th century. Ethiopia is also suffering from the effects of the climate crisis, with land degradation, soil erosion, deforestation, and recurrent droughts and flooding exacerbated by agriculture meanwhile 80% of Ethiopia’s population depends on agriculture as a livelihood.
Ethiopia planted more than 353 million trees in 12 hours in July 2019, which officials believe is a world record. Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed spearheaded the Green Legacy Campaign where millions of Ethiopians across the country were invited to take part in the challenge of planting the trees.
Within the first six hours of the 2019 challenge, Ahmed tweeted that around 150 million trees had been planted.”We’re halfway to our goal,” he said and encouraged Ethiopians to “build on the momentum in the remaining hours.” After the 12-hour period ended, the Prime Minister took to Twitter again to announce that Ethiopia not only met its collective Green Legacy goal but exceeded it,” A total of 353,633,660 tree seedlings were planted, tweeted Getahun Mekuria, Minister of Innovation and Technology. In 2017, India set the world record when around 1.5 million volunteers planted 66 million in 12 hours.
Since the official launching of the campaign, Ethiopians have been involved in planting eco-friendly trees, mostly indigenous tree species at various sites with the intention of restoring the trees that were deforested and used for energy and construction. The landlocked country joined more than 20 other African nations in pledging to restore 100 million hectares of land as part of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative.
A recent study estimated that restoring the world’s forests could remove two-thirds of all the planet-warming carbon that is in the atmosphere because of human activity. The study was carried out by researchers at Swiss university ETH Zurich, calculated that restoring degraded forests all over the world could capture about 205 billion tons of carbon in total. “Tree planting is no quick climate fix. It can take 30 to 40 years of growth for the carbon storage to reach its full potential. A more immediate benefit can come from halting deforestation”, said Thomas Crowther, Scientific Advisor.