Ethiopians have planted more than 350 million trees in a single day as part of a campaign to fight deforestation and climate change.
Getahun Mekuria, Ethiopia’s minister of innovation and technology, said 353 633 660 seedlings were planted in 12 hours on Monday.
The planting spree, which surpassed the initial goal of 200 million trees planted in one day, will be a world record, officials said.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ambitious Green Legacy Initiative, launched in May, aims to plant four billion trees across Ethiopia by October. “Today Ethiopia is set in our attempt to break the world record together for a green legacy,” Abiy’s office said in a Twitter post.
Some schools and government offices were closed for the occasion and Abiy told fellow Ethiopians to “go out and make your mark”, as he planted his own tree in the southern city of Arba Minch.
So far, more than 2.6 million trees have been planted in almost all parts of the East African nation, agricultural officials say.
According to Farm Africa, an organisation involved in forest management in Ethiopia, less than four percent of the country’s land is now forested, a sharp decline from about 30% at the end of the 19th century.
Ethiopia’s rapidly growing population and the need for more farmland, unsustainable forest use and climate change are often cited as the causes for rapid deforestation.
In addition to ordinary Ethiopians, various international organisations and the business community have joined the tree planting spree which aims to overtake India’s 66 million trees planting record set in 2017.
It is not yet clear if the Guinness World Records is monitoring Ethiopia’s the mass planting scheme, but the prime minister’s office told The Associated Press news agency that specially developed software is helping with the count.
Earlier in July, Swiss scientists published a study in journal Science saying that the most effective way to fight global warming was to plant one trillion trees.
The report said that over the decades, those new trees could suck up nearly 750 billion tonnes of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
That is about as much carbon pollution as humans have spewed in the last 25 years.