On July 29, the government of Ethiopia said the country planted more than 350 million trees in 12 hours as part of a project called “Green Legacy”. The government believes its tree-planting effort has set a world record.
The Green Legacy project is being led by Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed. Millions of Ethiopians were encouraged to take part in the tree-planting project. In order to make the project successful, many schools and government offices were closed. The goal was to plant 200 million trees.
In less than six hours, Mr. Abiy said that around 150 million trees had already been planted. He encouraged people to keep going.
At the end of 12 hours, Mr. Abiy announced that the country had planted even more trees than it had planned on. A person speaking for the government said that in all, a total of 353,633,660 small trees had been planted.
Ethiopia is hoping to set a Guinness World Record. It seems very likely that Guinness will agree. Currently, India holds the record for the most trees planted in 12 hours. India set that record in 2016 when around 1.5 million volunteers planted 66 million trees.
But Ethiopia’s plan is not limited to just the trees planted last Monday. The country plans to use the entire rainy season, which lasts from May to October, for planting. In all, the country hopes to plant 4 billion trees this year.
One of the biggest causes of global heating has been air pollution. Human made pollution has released huge amounts of “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – the layer of gases that surround Earth.
Trees, like most plants, use carbon dioxide as food, giving off oxygen, which humans breathe. Cutting down huge areas of forests is one of the things that has made the climate crisis worse. So replanting those forests is one action humans can take to help slow down climate change.
In a recent study, scientists said that by planting 1 trillion trees, as much as 830 billion tons of carbon dioxide can be removed from the atmosphere. That amount of carbon dioxide is about as much as humans have released in the last 25 years.
But planting trees is not just a solution for global heating. It also helps solve other problems, such as holding water in the ground and making sure that farming soil doesn’t get blown away or washed away. Growing forests also provide a place for threatened animals to live.
Many countries have taken on large tree-planting projects for these and other reasons. In 2017, for example, over 20 African nations joined the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100). The AFR100 is a project that aims to replant 386,000 square miles (1 million square kilometers) of land by 2030.
One challenge that is often faced by large tree-planting projects like these is keeping the young trees alive. In some projects, only a small fraction of the trees planted have survived.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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