The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has this week launched an initiative to reverse the damage done by widespread deforestation across the country by pledging to plant 4 billion new trees.
The prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has vowed to begin the reforestation project at the start of the rainy season, as a part of Ethiopia’s greater commitment to building a ‘Climate Resilient Green Economy’.
The country has seen huge deforestation over recent years, ultimately leading to mineral and water loss in the soil and reduced rainfall which has caused severe droughts – the most recent being in 2017, where it is estimated that some 2 million animals perished.
Ethiopia is the second largest country in Africa by population, and the economy has been growing at an impressive rate of between 7 – 13% over the last 15 years. Deforestation usually occurs as a matter of course in developing nations in order to provide space for homes and livestock, and materials for developing.
An added issue for Ethiopia is their economy’s reliance on the native Arabica coffee plant which grows wild and is exported and consumed worldwide. Coffee harvesting has not only contributed to the deforestation of the native plants themselves, but will also impact their ability to grow in conditions without enough canopy-cover and an adequate water supply. A study in 2006 found that Ethiopia’s coffee production accounts for 3 percent of global coffee supply and represents 34% of income from exports. With the global boom in the coffee trade, and higher demand for speciality coffees, the share of production for the world’s 7th largest coffee producer is sure only to grow.
Developing nations such as Ethiopia are quickly realising their responsibility in responding to global climate change concerns. The ‘Climate Resilient Green Economy’ strategy now employed by the Ethiopian government hopes to address these issues while strengthening growth and building a greener future for its people.
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Main Image: Nina R, Ethiopia Oromia, Flickr Creative Commons
By Sofi Pickering