Ethiopia plants 350 million trees in one day, breaking record

It's part of the nation's massive reforestation campaign that aims to plant 4 billion trees in 2019.

  • Ethiopians planted 353,633,660 seedlings on Monday, likely breaking a world record for the most trees ever planted in a single day.
  • Ethiopia has suffered rapid deforestation over the past half-century.
  • On a broader scale, reforestation might be one of the most effective ways to curb climate change.

Ethiopia planted more than 353 million indigineous trees in 12 hours as part of a nationwide reforestation campaign named "Green Legacy." It's the most trees ever planted by a nation in a single day, breaking India's previously held record of about 66 million trees in 2017.

The ultimate goal is to encourage Ethiopians to plant 4 billion trees during the 2019 "rainy season" between May and October. Ethiopia has so far planted 2.6 billion trees this year, and Monday's effort put some 353,633,660 into the ground, the country's minister for innovation and technology, Getahun Mekuria, tweeted.

Ethiopia – Africa's second most populous nation – has suffered rapid deforestation since the mid-20th century, due mainly to its booming population. According to the forest management organization Farm Africa, Ethiopia's forested regions have decreased from about 30 percent at the end of the 19th century to less than 4 percent today. The problem isn't only environmental, but also economic, considering the agriculture sector accounts for some 85 percent of jobs in the West African nation.

That's maybe partly why the Ethiopian government chose to directly appeal to its 110 million citizens, asking each to plant 40 seedlings, and closing government offices to allow workers to "go out and make your mark." In 2017, Ethiopia joined more than 20 other African nations by signing onto the AFR100 (the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative), which aims to restore 100 million hectares of land by 2030.

How can forest restoration fight climate change?

Because plants remove carbon from the atmosphere during photosynthesis, reforestation could be a natural and effective way to slow climate change. Of course, making a significant dent in atmospheric carbon levels would require a ton of trees, as a recent study published in Science found.

The researchers found that planting the right trees on .09 billion hectares of available land across the globe would remove 205 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the next 40 to 100 years. That's about two thirds of the estimated 300 gigatons humans have already added.

"The point is that [reforestation is] so much more vastly powerful than anyone ever expected," Thomas Crowther, a professor of environmental systems science at ETH Zurich and a co-author of the paper, told Vox. "By far, it's the top climate change solution in terms of carbon storage potential."

Although the global community isn't close to implementing such a massive, coordinated reforestation campaign, some researchers noted that the recent study was helpful for mapping specific areas where trees could regrow. In any case, reforestation seems to be an effective tool against climate change, but it's not the quickest.

" will take decades for new forests to mature and achieve this potential," Crowther told The Guardian. "It is vitally important that we protect the forests that exist today, pursue other climate solutions, and continue to phase out fossil fuels from our economies in order to avoid dangerous climate change."

Befriend your ideological opposite. It’s fun.

Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
  • Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
  • "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Keep reading Show less

Physicists find new state of matter that can supercharge technology

Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.

Surprising Science
  • Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
  • The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
  • Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
Keep reading Show less

Physicist advances a radical theory of gravity

Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.

Photo by Willeke Duijvekam
Surprising Science
  • The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
  • The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
  • While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
Keep reading Show less

How to heal trauma with meaning: A case study in emotional evolution

As tempting as it may be to run away from emotionally-difficult situations, it's important we confront them head-on.

  • Impossible-sounding things are possible in hospitals — however, there are times when we hit dead ends. In these moments, it's important to not run away, but to confront what's happening head-on.
  • For a lot of us, one of the ways to give meaning to terrible moments is to see what you can learn from them.
  • Sometimes certain information can "flood" us in ways that aren't helpful, and it's important to figure out what types of data you are able to take in — process — at certain times.
Keep reading Show less