In 2019, the Ethiopia government, led by Prime Minster Dr. Abiy Ahmed, launched the ambitious Green Legacy campaign that set a milestone to plant 200 million tree seedlings within 12 hours as integral part of an annual target to plant 4 billion tree seedlings. July 29, 2019 was declared to be Green Legacy day, which aimed to plant 200 million seedlings in a day countrywide by all stakeholders based on the Prime Minister declaration to all Ethiopian citizens, governmental and Non-governmental institutions, Civil and Private organizations, Embassies, Agencies and others. Subsequently, the GGGI Ethiopia country office joined the campaign, with Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission (EFCCC) as a key partner on the country’s green growth initiatives, to be part of this historic event. This campaign has shown substantial government dedications towards green development actions, mobilizing stakeholders and forest development initiatives as a country.
Following the Prime Minster national call, a core national technical committee was established and led this campaign to coordinate and ensure tree planting activities across different parts of the country properly and effectively at respective planting sites. Moreover, a national archive and communication center was established to record and communicate planting tallies as they happen on the site through the application of GPS and modern communication technology. National and international medias have recorded and broadcasted the events, which enabled global outreach to demonstrate Ethiopia’s efforts and achievements on tree planting. The core technical team disclosed the outcome that both targets have been met, in which annual achievement has reached more than 4 billion seedlings. It’s also reported that more than 350 million seedlings have been plated on a single day, which was recorded to be the world’s highest tree seedling planting event ever.
This is a significant measure for Ethiopia to address forest problems, especially to reduce deforestation and enhance forest development, and thereby, improve forest goods and services that have crucial social, economic and environmental roles. Various scholars have reported that historically, Ethiopia is said to have about 40% forest coverage, which currently has declined to less than half. A recent EFCCC report indicated that Ethiopia has about 15.5 percent forest cover. Apparently, no one would argue about the fact that Ethiopia forest resources have been declining in size and quality through time and deficit between annual forest gain and loss.
For Ethiopia, forest development and management is not a matter of choice, rather it’s compulsory to ensure sustainable development and to achieve overarching Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) and Growth Transformation Plan (GTP) strategies. Ethiopia’s land features are characterized by mountainous and rugged topographic landscapes that are suitable for natural resources conservation including flora and fauna, water reservoirs and multiple functions. Therefore, landscapes and watersheds management though natural regeneration and restoration have important contributions for the country and beyond the territory. For instance, forestry development has a critical role to address climate changes effects through mitigation and adaptation measures, which have national and international significance. Ethiopia hydro dams have been under serious challenges due to watershed degradations that led to soil erosion and siltation that impacts electricity generation and power supply. In turn, this has been impacting industry and manufacturing sectors due to power shortages, which have direct implications on the economy and livelihoods. Afforestation and reforestation activities reduce wood supply and demand gaps, as Ethiopian rural communities significantly depend on the forest products for their livelihood, which includes income generation, construction materials, energy, farm tools, foods and so on, both for home consumption and commercial uses. Agroforestry practices have critical roles to improve land management and productivity, which contribute to household incomes and reducing forest pressure. The forest sector is one of the four pillars under the CRGE strategy to promote green growth development and address climate change mitigation actions. Generally, this forest development action has multiple contributions and effects that encompasses social, economic and environmental aspects at local, national and global scales.
This event is the beginning of long journey, which requires building on this momentum and transforming it into an institutional and strategic approach to realize the intended objectives. It’s believed that the ultimate goal of tree planting is to enhance forest resources to provide improved goods and services sustainably. Hence, it needs silvicultural and management interventions, scientific knowledge and technology to devise a sustainable management system, demonstrate economic contributions and impacts, forest products value addition and benefit sharing mechanisms, technical supports and law enforcement, knowledge management and sharing on best practices and lessons.
Finally, beyond the accomplishment, this is a lesson that demonstrates how leadership, coordination and joint efforts can make a difference on a pertinent issue. Furthermore, it’s good to reiterate that many individuals, organizations and countries have witnessed how the Ethiopia Green Legacy action has been landmark and exemplary. With this, GGGI commends and is honored to be part of this event and looks forward to further supporting the country’s inclusive green growth efforts.