Ethiopia has recently planted just over 353 million trees in 12 hours! Officials are considering it a landslide world record achievement.

Ethiopia has stolen the title from India who set the previous record in in 2017 when nearly 1.5 million volunteers planted 66 million in 12 hours. India also held the 2016 record after 800,000 volunteers planted more than 50 million trees.

As part of the reforestation campaign “Green Legacy,” Ethiopia, spearheaded by the country’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, challenged its citizens to plant as many trees in one day as they physically could.  This tree planting challenge aimed to plant 200 million trees in one day.

Over 1,000 sites across the country took part in the event with state media urging the public to plant and care for trees through promotional videos. Millions of Ethiopians turned up to the event and my word did they do an amazing job!

Several government offices had to be closed to allow civil servants the freedom to take part in the event. Member of staff from the United Nations, the African Union and an array of foreign embassies in Ethiopia also took part in the exercise.

After only six hours, Prime Minister Ahmed tweeted that over 150 million trees had already been planted.

“We’re halfway to our goal,” he emphatically said and encouraged Ethiopians to “build on the momentum in the remaining hours.”

After the 12-hour period had finished, the Prime Minister again took to Twitter again to declare that Ethiopia not only met its “collective #GreenLegacy goal,” but absolutely smashed it!

After government officials counted the seedlings planted by volunteers, Getahun Mekuria, the country’s minister for innovation and technology, tweeted that a total of 353,633,660 tree seedlings had been planted.

Although the total number of trees planted seems enormous, the overall goal for the whole campaign is much bigger. According to a tweet by Prime Minister Ahmed in May 2019, the national tree planting campaign is planning to plant 4 billion indigenous trees during “the rainy season” — between May and October.

According to the UN, Ethiopia’s forest coverage declined from 35% of total land in the early 20th Century to a little above 4% in the 2000s. Feeling the full force of the effects of the climate crisis, Ethiopia has seen huge problems with land degradation, soil erosion, droughts and deforestation. Recent droughts followed by severe flooding has decimated its agricultural industry which provides 80% of Ethiopians with food and income.

The Green Legacy campaign aims to counter-act the devastating effects of deforestation in the area to also combat the ever growing problem of climate change in the drought-prone country.

The initiative is all part of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative – a plan sworn in by over 20 African countries in 2017 to restore 100 million hectares of land across the continent.

A study recently conducted by researchers at Zurich University, Switzerland have estimated that two-thirds of all the planet-warming carbon that is in the atmosphere because of human activity could be removed by restoring the world’s lost forests.

The researchers concluded that in total, around 205 billion tons of carbon could be captured if we restored the degraded forests around the world. This could make all the difference seeing as global carbon emissions are around 10 billion tons per year…

Awesome work Ethiopia! Share this story to your friends and family and maybe we can ignite similar projects to start up around the world!