Millions of Ethiopians are expected to take part in a massive tree-planting campaign, with the authorities saying they hope half a billion seedlings will be planted in 12 hours. But simmering violence in some areas could hinder people coming out in large numbers.
The move is part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s “green legacy” initiative that has seen similar drives throughout the country’s main rainy seasons over the last four years.
In 2019, the government claimed 350 million seedlings were planted in a single day, something that has not been independently confirmed. At the time authorities said more than 20 million people took part in the campaign.
Questions were raised by some about the reliability of the figures provided.
In a statement released on Sunday, Prime Minister Abiy said the objective this year is “to break [a] record”. But it’s not clear if the country is applying to get verification and recognition from the Guinness World Records.
According to Guinness, more than 50 million trees were planted in a single day in 2016 in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Ethiopia, once a densely forested country with 35% of its total land area covered in trees in the early 20th Century, saw that figure plummet to a little above 4% in the 2000s according to the United Nations.