Deforrestation and climate change has meant that forest coverage of drought-prone Ethiopia has dropped from 35% coverage a century ago to just 4% in the 2000s.
What was to be done?
Well, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed set an ambitious target for his country to plant four billion trees across Ethiopia during this year’s “ rainy season" - i.e between May and October. He encouraged every citizen to plant at least 40 seedlings.
This was part of what he called a national Green Legacy initiative
How’s it going, so far? I’m not sure but, astoundingly, on just one day of last month, Ethiopia planted more than 353 million trees in just 12 hours. Indeed, Getahun Mekuria, Ethiopia's minister of innovation and technology, said 353,633,660 seedlings were planted – a world record.
Now let’s contrast that with the U.K.
Here’s what’s stated in the government’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report:
Afforestation targets for 20,000 hectares/year across the UK nations (due to increase
to 27,000 by 2025), are not being delivered, with less than 10,000 hectares planted,
on average, over the last five years.
The CCC report called for an increase in UK woodland cover to 17% by 2050. This would require a planting rate of 32,000 hectares a year for the next 30 years, moving the UK from 13% to 17% woodland cover. This equates to a million new hectares of woodland cover, and some 1.5 billion trees.
Just out of interest, a recent study by Swiss scientists, and published in the journal ‘Science’, says 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 out in the last 25 years.