by Melissa Breyer: Ethiopia’s ambitious national reforestation program seeks to plant 4 billion trees by October…
Ethiopia is clearly not the fist county to cut down most of its trees … ever wonder why Iceland has such a strangely barren landscape? But the African republic is on the forefront of righting the wrong.
As the World Economic Forum reports, at the turn of the 20th century, forested land comprised nearly a third of Ethiopia; today it is less than 4 percent.
Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Green Belt Movement, Kenya’s Wangari Muta Maathai once said, “Poor people will cut the last tree to cook the last meal. The more you degrade the environment, the more you dig deeper into poverty.”
So what’s a deforested country to do?
Plant trees! Which is exactly the motive behind Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s “Green Legacy” reforestation program; an ambitious plan to plant four billion trees by October. According to the Office of the Prime Minister’s website, the Green Legacy initiative “is for a greener and cleaner Ethiopia, is a national go green campaign, endeavoring to raise the public’s awareness about Ethiopia’s frightening environmental degradation and, educate society on the importance of adapting green behavior.”
And they are taking this seriously; Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture says that 2.6 billion new trees have already been planted.
In one huge push to reach the goal, Ethiopians spent 12 hours on July 29th in a seedling frenzy and planted an extraordinary 350 million trees, surpassing the target of planting 200 million seedlings. They passed the previous world record set by India in 2017, when volunteers planted 66 million trees in 12 hours.
With research showing that non-sustainable deforestation is responsible for more than 15 percent of global greenhouse gases, the time is now to stop irresponsible deforestation and start planting more trees. (The time is actually way past, nut now is better than later.) And while planting trees alone won’t stop the climate crisis, we also have to cut our carbon emissions, it is still one of the most effective strategies for climate change mitigation.