ADDIS ABABA, July 26 (Xinhua) -- Bekele Benti, a bus driver in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, is excited to take part in a historic national tree planting event, which is slated for Monday.
The East African country is set to mark a new world record of planting 200 million seedlings in a single day. Benti is looking forward to putting his mark in Ethiopia's ambition to regain its lost forest resources.
"As a bus driver, with frequent trips across the country, I have witnessed the extent of deforestation in different parts of Ethiopia," Benti told Xinhua on Friday. "It's really frustrating to see forest-covered areas turned to be bare lands within a few years."
The ambitious initiative is part of the Ethiopian government's aspiration to plant 4 billion trees during the second half of the current Ethiopian physical year, which was officially kicked off by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on May 26, through a project dubbed "Green Legacy."
"This is a great opportunity for me and fellow Ethiopians to contribute to our country's better future towards a green and environmentally well-positioned Ethiopia," Benti said, as he emphasized the need to tackle the rising deforestation through effective plantation efforts.
The initiative to plant 200 million trees in a single day was launched by the Ethiopian prime minister - an initiative which is expected to break a world record so far held by India on planting a large number of tree seedlings in a single day.
Under the 4 billion trees planting Green Legacy national project, all Ethiopians are expected to plant at least 40 trees during the course of action.
Natnael Tsegaye, a primary school teacher, also shared Benti's assertion regarding the long-term importance of planting trees towards the betterment of the country's future.
"It is an important initiative," Tsegaye told Xinhua, adding "Such initiatives are powerful enough to set an example to Ethiopia's next generation regarding the significance of tackling deforestation and building resilience against climate change."
Ethiopia's tree planting initiative has so far witnessed the planting of more than 2.6 billion seedlings across the country since the initiative was launched some three months ago, according to figures from the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture.
While more than 60 percent of the Green Legacy target has been already met, the ministry also on Friday announced the successful distribution of the planned 200 million seedlings throughout the country, most of which are said to be indigenous tree species.
The initiative has also received the support of various international organizations, including various United Nations agencies, as well as development partners due to its positive role in the fight against climate change.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), Ethiopia's ambitious reforestation initiative is "critical for Ethiopia which had lost billions of trees and forest resources over the years."
The initiative is significant to restore the trees that are lost in the past due to enduring forest degradation and climate change, said Paul Turnbull, WFP Deputy Country Director to Ethiopia, as he emphasized that the East African country had lost "so many trees for various reasons" such as firewood, charcoal, building and animal feed.
"We need to keep planting the trees to recover lost forest resources," the WFP official stressed.