In earlier blogs, I have written of my efforts at germinating hickory and pawpaw trees (April 5, 2019) and of my admiration of Wangari Maathai's transformative work with planting trees in Africa (April 26, 2019). As I continue on the journey with my little tree seedlings, I am humbled by the work of my new heroes, the people of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
On July 29th 2019, Ethiopians showed their commitment to working towards becoming a green society by planting various types of eco-friendly seedlings to combat environmental degradation. They didn't just plant a few trees here and there, they actually planted more than 350 million trees throughout Ethiopia in over 1000 locations in just 12 hours! They are well on their way to ensuring a green legacy. This effort was spearheaded by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who put in place an infrastructure which enabled this event to happen including making sure seedlings would be available, publicizing the effort and closing schools and governmental offices so that students and civil servants could participate. And boy did they, alongside folks from a wide spectrum of the society including lawyers, grandmothers, doctors and construction workers.
Their combined effort in this one day of action will change the course of their country in an incredibly positive way for decades to come, but they are not stopping there. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has stated that his goal is to plant 4 billion trees by November in an effort to combat deforestation and climate change in his drought-prone country. According to the United Nations, Ethiopia's forest coverage declined from 35% of total land in the early 20th Century to a little above 4% in the 2000s. Non-sustainable deforestation is known to be a significant contributor to greenhouse gases and while planting trees alone cannot stop the escalation of our current climate crisis, it is an effective way to mitigate it and sequester carbon. With this tree-planting effort and through other equally admirable actions, Ethiopian's are doing their part to move towards a more sustainable way of living.
The Earth Day Network has called for planting 7.8 billion trees. one for every living person, on Earth Day next year. That doesn't seem such a lofty goal when you look at what a relatively small country like Ethiopia has shown that it is capable of accomplishing.
The pawpaws and hickories that I am growing will be ready to be planted next spring, but now I think I need to up my ante a bit. I see more nut collection and stratification in my future this year so that next year I can grow a slightly greener legacy.