Ethiopia has planted more than 350 million trees in 12 hours, its government announced, claiming a world record.
Across the country, volunteers took part in the mass planting as part of the “Green Legacy” initiative, a programme that aims to reforest large swathes of the land.
The efforts far surpassed an original target of planting 200 million seedlings in a day. Ethiopia believes its achievement exceeds the previous world record set by India in 2017, when volunteers planted 66 million trees in 12 hours.
Launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s national reforestation programme has an ambitious target of planting 4 billion trees by the end of the rainy season in October. Which means planting 40 seedlings for every person in the country.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture has said 2.6 billion new trees – more than half of the target – are already in the ground.
The aim is to reverse decades of deforestation when logging, land clearances and poorly defined property rights led to a dramatic decline in forest cover. According to research by Farm Africa, an organization working to restore the forests of East Africa, Ethiopia’s forested land was reduced from almost a third of the country at the turn of the 20th century, to less than 4% today.
What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?
Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.
To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The World Economic Forum's Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.
This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.
Research published in the Nature journal estimates that 15 billion trees are cut down each year, fuelling global warming.
WWF research shows deforestation is responsible for more than 15% of global greenhouse gases. Carbon extracted from the atmosphere by forests is stored in the branches and trunks of trees. Once these are cut and burned, the stored carbon is released back into the air.
The effects of climate change have hit Ethiopia’s largely agrarian population hard. Over-farming has caused land degradation and soil erosion, while warming temperatures leave farmers facing a constant threat of extreme weather events such as droughts and flooding.