Ethiopia Launches Massive Tree-planting Campaign

ADDIS ABEBA – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has officially launched the second national tree-planting campaign in Ethiopia’s southern city, Hawassa, on Friday.

Dubbed “Green Legacy”, the campaign sets out to plant 5 billion tree seedlings across the country during the three-month-long rainy season that begins in June. 

At the launching day of the campaign, the prime minister said the country’s development journey will not be hindered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“While our resilience will be tested, we are committed to meeting our set target in planting in a COVID-19 responsive way,” he said, adding that “countering climate change and paving the way for green growth has been one of our development objectives”.

The country remains determined to meet this year’s goal of planting five billion trees with various regions joining in the launching campaign.

Abiy urged all Ethiopians to aim for a repeat last year’s performance. Abiy said over 84 percent of the four billion trees planted in 2019 had survived, crediting “extensive care-taking work” throughout the year.

No known independent studies have been conducted.

As the country looks ahead to a yet-to-be-scheduled general election, officials hope the initiative can help bridge ethnic and political divides and “unite our people”, said Sileshi Degefa, director of the Gullele Botanical Garden in Addis Ababa.

At the same time, they’re determined to improve on last year’s planting effort so more trees stay standing, Sileshi said.

“This year we’ve got enough lessons from the previous one, so I hope we will plant the right species in the right place,” he told AFP.

He added, though, that “with such big programs, we don’t expect perfection”.

The launching of the campaign this season coincided with the World Environment Day. The country plans to plant 20 billion tree seedlings over a period of four years as part of the Green Legacy campaign launched in 2019.

[Photo Aron Simeneh]

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