One of the best ways to curtail the negative effects of climate change consists of adopting green practices that counter deforestation. In Ethiopia, a nation where the indiscriminate taking of forest land has resulted in devastating drought periods, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed recently launched a Green Legacy Initiative as part of a substantial reforestation effort involving as many sectors of the population as possible.
A National Effort
The initiative sought to plant 350 million trees in one day, thus breaking a record previously set by Indian agricultural workers in 2016. For months, Ethiopian farmers cultivated and nourished seedlings of native species to be planted in more than a thousand sites across the country. As many individuals as possible were encouraged to participate in this massive tree planting effort; government offices and schools were closed down for the day in order to give workers and students an opportunity to plant as many seedlings as possible. Soldiers and police officers also participated, and the final count of 353,633,660 baby trees was achieved by sundown.
Ambitious Reforestation Goals
United Nations observers were on hand to certify the tree count, and they were impressed by the results. The next stage of the initiative is already underway. It involves a social media campaign featuring videos and other pieces of digital content that teach communities how to care for their trees. The reforestation goals are intended to plant four billion trees over the next few years. The idea is to return to the days when Ethiopia enjoyed more than 30 percent forest cover, which nowadays is less than 4 percent.
Previous International Successes
There is no question that reforestation efforts work. In countries such as Costa Rica, for example, reclaiming 26.3 percent of forest coverage has was achieved over a quarter of a century through initiatives that discouraged “sun coffee” farming, whereby trees are cleared to allow more coffee plants to grow under the sun, thus producing a higher crop yield. These days, Costa Rica enjoys nearly 55 percent forest cover, and it gets plenty of rainfall during its six-month long green season. This is exactly what arid regions of Ethiopia, which were lushly green decades ago, desperately need.