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Arid Ethiopia Plants 350 Million Trees in One Day

FILE - An Odaa tree stands in the town of Dukem, Oromia region, Ethiopia, Nov. 1, 2018. Ethiopians planted more than 350 million tree seedlings on July 29, 2019, in what is thought to be a world record.

Ethiopians planted more than 350 million trees in one day, officials say, in what they believe is a world record.

Ethiopia's minister of innovation and technology, Getahun Mekuria, tweeted estimates of the number of trees being planted throughout the day Monday. By early evening, he said 353,633,660 tree seedlings were planted in 12 hours.

The massive effort is part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's Green Legacy Initiative, which aims to plant more than 4 billion trees between May and October, or 40 trees per person.

The campaign aims to reverse the effects of deforestation and climate change in the drought-prone country. According to the United Nations, Ethiopia's forest coverage was just 4% in the 2000s, down from 35% a century earlier.

Besides ordinary Ethiopians, various international organizations and the business community also joined the exercise, which aims to surpass India's record planting of 66 million trees in 12 hours in 2017.