Ethiopia's 353 million tree planting bid beats one-day world record

People across the nation took part in the project tackling climate change

In a 12 hour blitz, Ethiopians planed 353 million trees in the latest bid to tackle deforestation and the impact of climate change.

Minister for Innovation and Technology Getahun Mekuria announced the undertaking, part of the government’s plan announced in May to plant 4 billion saplings in an ambitious plan to roll back years of drought and scarce rains. The United Nations says the impact of warming temperatures and lower rains have already left 3.8 million people in need of assistance in the country.

The Horn of Africa nation started rationing power on May 17 due to low-water levels at the Gibe 3 hydro-electric dam and discontinued power export to neighbouring Sudan and Djibouti.

Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation with 100 million people, is less than 4 per cent forested, a sharp decline from around 30 per cent at the end of the 19th century, Farm Africa, an organization involved in forest management in Ethiopia, has said.

Ethiopia’s rapidly growing population and the need for more farmlands, unsustainable forest use and climate change are often cited as the causes for rapid deforestation.

Monday’s blitz broke previous world records for the number of saplings planted in a single day.

More than 224 million saplings had already been planted by the afternoon, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported, beating the previous world record held by India.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's office tweeted a call for everyone in the country to “go out and #PlantYourPrint”.

Some schools and government offices were closed for the occasion and the prime minister told fellow Ethiopians to go out and make your mark, as he planted his own tree in the southern city of Arba Minch.

In addition to ordinary Ethiopians, various international organizations and the business community have joined the tree planting spree which aims to overtake India’s 66 million trees planting record set in 2017.

Ethiopia's rapidly growing population and lack of arable land pose a problem for the impoverished east African nation.

In recent years environment has become a key issue in Ethiopia, the United Nations Development Programme says on their website.

The main environmental problems in the country include land degradation, soil erosion, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, desertification, recurrent drought, flood and water and air pollution.