The "green legacy" initiative seeks to carry out goals outlined by Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, Laudato si'.
There is a frequently quoted saying of unknown origin that says “the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second time is now.”
On July 29, the government of Ethiopia, as part of a national “green legacy” initiative is doing just that — and then some. According to Ethiopia’s minister of innovation and technology, Dr. Getahun Mekuria, the country has planted 350 million trees in one day in order to meet the goal of planting 4 billion trees within two years, as reported in The Guardian.
Each citizen is being encouraged to plant at least 40 seedlings in a project aimed at combating deforestation and climate change, which, according to the United Nations, has reduced Ethiopia’s forest coverage from 35% a hundred years ago to 4% in the 2000s.
According to the BBC, the current World Record for planting trees in a single day is held by India, which planted 50 million trees in a day in 2016.
Workers from the United Nations, African Union and foreign embassies in Ethiopia have been taking part in the project, which has been promoted on state media.
In his 2015 papal encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis called on people of all nations to care for creation in small ways, including by planting trees.
There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle. Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices. All of these reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings. Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity.