Ethiopia have just shattered a Guinness World Record for the most trees planted in one day, according to their Office of the Prime Minister. By their numbers 353,633,600 trees were planted in a 12 hour period, smashing the previous record of 50 million held by India. The world record attempt is part of a wider Green Legacy initiative aiming to plant a total of four billion trees in the rainy season this year.
With almost every story nowadays relating to the environment resembling a doomsday prophecy, its nice to feature some good news from around the world and this certainly fits the bill.
Back in May on Twitter, the Ethiopian Office of the Prime Minister called on regional leaders in the country to promote and champion the National Green Development Programme. This programme aims to plant a total of four billion new trees in a time span of around four months. The recent world record attempt is just one step along the way in this massive undertaking.
For some context as to the scale of this plan, the total population of Ethiopia is around 100 million, meaning that the reforestation effort would create 40 new trees per person.
The target was originally set at 200 million trees in one day, but if the numbers above are accurate then they cleared that with ease. The effort spanned over 1000 sites across the country and some government offices even closed for the day to allow people to help contribute to the record attempt. Special software was apparently used to track the planting efforts but so far there has been no official confirmation of the world record being broken.
This is particularly good news in the face of recent developments in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro’s policy changes have seen deforestation of the Amazon increase to the level of three football fields a minute. According to the Guardian, in July alone Brazil may lose an area of forest bigger than Greater London, which measures around 1600 square kilometres.
Planting more trees in any country has plenty of obvious benefits and Ethiopia especially seem to recognise that fact in their Green Legacy project. Indeed, the website for the Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia explicitly mentions the benefits of such a proposal in terms of preserving wildlife and biodiversity, supporting agriculture, improving health, ensuring clean water is available for all and fighting climate change.
Worth taking special notice of is the impact this will have on climate change, which will effect everyone around the world. In fact, a recent paper published in Science highlighted the potential of global reforestation efforts to cut the atmospheric carbon pool by around 25%. And while the exact numbers may be in dispute, the fact is that planting more trees is objectively better for both local ecosystems and the planet as a whole.
Hopefully in the near future more and more countries can take on projects such as Ethiopia’s Green Legacy, and less implement incentives that encourage deforestation, as in Brazil. Because put simply, we all benefit when efforts are undertaken to improve the environment, and we all lose when the opposite happens, even if it may take years, or even decades to see the true cost/benefit of our actions.