Ethiopia claims it has smashed a world record in the name of climate change—and the tree planting isn't even done. More than 353 million tree seedlings were planted across the country in just 12 hours as part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's Green Legacy reforestation campaign, per CNN. The campaign hopes to see 4 billion indigenous trees planted between May and October. Citizens had been encouraged to plant 200 million trees on Monday, but Ahmed tweeted that 150 million had been planted after just six hours. At the end of 12 hours, the country's minster for innovation and technology, Getahun Mekuria, announced 353,633,660 seedlings had gone into the ground—more than five times as many trees as were planted in India over 12 hours in 2017, per CNN.
Some schools and government offices closed to allow students and civil servants to take part, per Al Jazeera, which notes 2.6 billion trees have now been planted across Ethiopia. The Guardian reports each citizen is asked to plant at least 40 seedlings. The goal is to transform Ethiopia's landscape, which is seeing degradation, soil erosion, deforestation, and droughts and flooding tied to agriculture. About 80% of Ethiopia's population relies on agriculture to make a living, with the result that just 4% of land is now forested, compared to 30% at the end of the 19th century, according to Farm Africa. Per Al Jazeera, a recent study estimates that 1 trillion new trees could pull almost 750 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere—or about as much as humans have released in the last 25 years—over several decades. (Read more Ethiopia stories.)