?Why Did Ethiopia Plant 350 Million Trees in a Single Day

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

“They’re planting a strip 7,000 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide to block the advance of the Sahara Desert.”

In an interview broadcasted live from Ynet Studio, Gil Siaki, Director of the KKL-JNF Southern Region’s Forestry Division, explained that this vast number of trees was planted to combat desertification. And yes, this has already been done in Israel, albeit using a much smaller number of trees.
Ethiopia planted 350 million trees on Monday as part of a comprehensive plan to plant around four billion of them. This initiative is designed to help “restore the landscape” of Ethiopia, which, according to experts, is being swiftly eroded because of deforestation and climate change. Its principal objective, however, is to prevent the desert from encroaching upon green areas of the country.
In his interview with Ynet, Director of KKL-JNF Southern Region’s Forestry Division Gil Siaki described the planting in Ethiopia as involving “an insane number of trees,” and he explained the nature of the project: “They’re planting a strip 7,000 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide to block the advance of the Sahara Desert.”
Siaki added that this method has been in use in Israel for a long time now. “Here tree-planting to combat desertification began long before there was talk of climate change and its effects worldwide,” he said. “Planting began one hundred and twenty years ago. We plant every year, mainly in the south, and in recent years, we’ve planted a lot more. With time, the areas grow smaller, and the style of planting changes, too. In the past we carried out mass plantings to re-forest an arid land – the hills were completely bare – but such regions are steadily shrinking. Today we plant in smaller areas in accordance with detailed and carefully-thought-out plans.”
Other countries are using this solution too, not just Israel and Ethiopia: “It’s not just in Africa that attempts like this are underway,” explained Siaki. “We’ve seen other projects like this: in China, for example, a tree-planting project that attempts to prevent the desert sand dunes from advancing southwards.”
He concluded by saying that the technique does actually work: “We’ve seen this here in our own little State of Israel, where, over the years, we’ve created a green belt around the city of Beersheba. Winds push the dunes northwards and rainfall runoff erodes the soil. Our actions stabilize the ground and contribute to the environment.”