Ethiopia is working on planting five billion trees this year, part of an ambitious plan to plant 20 billion seedlings by 2024 to help build a green climate resistant economy. The initiative, started by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, follows the Green Legacy Challenge project that claimed to plant a record 353 million seedlings on a single day, and a total of 4 billion last year. But it comes as Ethiopia faces a ballooning budget deficit and a growing government expenditure with dwindling foreign investment in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The new expenditure is budgeted to cost the country over $117 million which is believed to be a conservative estimate and is now expected to likely cost twice as much due to cost of plants in urban areas. The initiative has been getting support from nations including Norway, Sweden and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as a way to help Ethiopia embrace a green agenda and help create sustainable local jobs. But one challenge of planting trees across Ethiopia is that it might have the opposite of a beneficial effect, and could even threaten some of the country’s ecosystems. Scientists have worried that for the initiative to work, trees planted in the country’s different ecological environments need to be tailor-made for their location. If the right trees are not planted in the environments for which they are a fit, the “Green Legacy” might be doing more harm than good.
SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA