When Countries Compete, Earth Wins Big

01 August, 2019

Sports are usually the way that countries compete with one another. However, there is another way countries around the world are competing for the top spot: planting the most trees.

The latest winner of that contest is Ethiopia.

On July 29 the Associated Press reported that Ethiopians planted more than 200 million trees.

A young boy plants trees in Ethiopia.
A young boy plants trees in Ethiopia.

The country is currently in the middle of a massive tree-planting campaign. It aims to plant 4 billion trees between May and October of this year.

That is very good news for our planet.

Planting more trees may be a way to reduce the effects of global warming. Scientists from Switzerland recently said that if the world plants 1 trillion trees, carbon dioxide, or CO2, emissions could drop by 25 percent.

Officials in Ethiopia say the country has so far planted more than 2.6 billion trees.

The forest management organization Farm Africa says that less than 4 percent of land in Ethiopia is forested. That is a sharp drop from around 30 percent at the end of the 19th century. Climate change, the country's fast-growing population and the need for more farmland are the causes of deforestation.

The goal of Ethiopia is to restore its land.

Its other goal is, perhaps, to beat India's tree-planting world record.

On July 1, 2016, 800,000 volunteers in India's Uttar Pradesh state planted nearly 50 million trees. Smithsonian Magazine and other organizations reported that that effort was one for the record books!

The following year, another state in India broke Uttar Pradesh's record. The Digital Journal reported that year that 1.5 million volunteers in Madhya Pradesh planted nearly 66 million trees in 12 hours.

The Guinness World Records closely watches the world's tree-planting contests. The AP reports that Guinness has not yet officially recognized Ethiopia's tree planting claims.

Guinness has different categories for their tree-planting records. Some categories are for an unlimited number of people. Some are for a certain number of people. It also has time requirements. For example, countries can compete to plant the most trees in one hour or one day.

Many countries are doing their part to make the Earth greener. Pakistan, Indonesia, Ecuador and the Philippines have all competed in tree planting contests. Pakistan and Indonesia even hold Guinness World Records.

China is doing its part, too. It may not be a current world record holder, but its efforts can be seen from space.

In February 2019, the American space agency NASA published a statement saying India and China are leading the way in making our planet greener. In large part because of India's and China's efforts, the worldwide "green leaf area" has increased by 5 percent since the early 2000s.

Does your country have a "National Tree Planting Day"?

If your country does not have its own tree-planting day, maybe you should suggest it on social media! That is what one man in Turkey recently did.

On Twitter, Enes Sahin suggested dedicating a day for planting trees in Turkey. The Turkish citizen asked others to support his idea. And they did. His tweet quickly went viral.

Sahin wrote, "Let's set aside a day for all 82 million people in the country, including the children and the elderly, to plant trees. Let's set an example to the world and hand down a green country to the upcoming generations."

Turkish officials took notice. Rumeysa Kada, Turkey's youngest elected deputy, tweeted, "This is an awesome idea. It will be on our agenda for tomorrow."

Kadak later met with Sahin to discuss his idea.

Then the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan later sent his own message on Twitter. He wrote, "My friends and I will undertake all responsibility to make sure that we have a national tree-planting day."

Even if your country does not have any special day or events for tree planting, you can always go it alone!

Canadian Ken Chaplin holds the world record for the most trees planted in one day by a single person. On June 30, 2001, he planted 15,170 red pine seedlings in Canada's Saskatchewan province.

I'm Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo adapted this story from several news sites and one statement to the press. Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Words in This Story

deforestation n. the action of clearing a wide area of trees.

volunteer n. a person who does work without getting paid to do it

one for the record books phrase. An outstanding, memorable, or record-breaking event or achievement.

category n. a group of people or things that are similar in some way

dedicate v. to officially make (something) a place for honoring or remembering a person, event, etc.

elderly n. an old person

set an examplephrase show a standard of work or behavior for others to follow or copy; show a good, bad, etc. model for others

agenda n. a list of things to be considered or done

go it alone phrase to do something by oneself