Ethiopians dug in to help plant more than 200 million trees in the climate change-ravaged country on Monday, breaking the previous world record.
“Today Ethiopia is set in our attempt to break the world record together for a #GreenLegacy,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office tweeted earlier in the day.
More than 224 million saplings had already been planted by the afternoon, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported, beating the previous world record held by India.
Some schools and government offices were closed for the occasion and the prime minister told fellow Ethiopians to “go out and make your mark,” as he planted his own tree in the southern city of Arba Minch.
Abiy’s Green Legacy initiative, launched in May, aims to plant a total of four billion trees by year’s end.
Ethiopia’s rapidly growing population and lack of arable land pose a problem for the impoverished east African nation.
“In recent years environment has become a key issue in Ethiopia.
“The main environmental problems in the country include land degradation, soil erosion, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, desertification, recurrent drought, flood and water and air pollution,” the United Nations Development Programme says on their website.