Tree planting was part of a broader afforestation campaign called "Green Heritage", led by the country's prime minister, Abiy Ahmed. Millions of Ethiopians across the country were invited to take part in the challenge, and within the first six hours, Ahmed tweeted that about 150 million trees were planted.
"We are halfway to our goal," he said, encouraging the Ethiopians to "build on momentum in the remaining hours." After the 12-hour period ended, the Prime Minister again took to Twitter to announce
that Ethiopia had not only fulfilled its "collective objective of the #Legal Legation" but exceeded it.
A total of 353 633 660 tree seedlings were planted, the Minister of Innovation and Technology of the country, Getahun Mekuria, tweeted
The challenge on Monday encouraged citizens in Africa's second-most populous country to plant 200 million trees in one day. In 2017, India set a world record when around 1.5 million volunteers planted 66 million in 12 hours.
The Ethiopian goal for the whole season is even greater than this; the national tree planting campaign aims to plant 4 billion trees during the "rainy season" – between May and October – according to a May tweet from Ahmed.
According to Farm Africa, an organization working on forest restoration efforts in East Africa and helping farmers with poverty, less than 4% of Ethiopia's land is afforested, compared to about 30% in the late 19th century .
The country not known also suffers from the effects of the climate crisis, with land degradation, soil erosion, deforestation and recurrent droughts and floods exacerbated by agriculture. Eighty percent of Ethiopia's population depends on agriculture as a livelihood.
In 2017, Ethiopia joined more than 20 other African countries that pledged to restore 100 million hectares of land as part of an initiative to restore African forest landscapes.
A recent study has estimated that restoring the world's lost forests can remove two-thirds of the planet's warming carbon from human activity.
A study by researchers at ETH Zurich University in Switzerland estimated that restoring degraded forests worldwide could take about 205 billion tonnes of carbon. Global carbon emissions are about 10 billion tonnes a year.