By Ayele Addis Ambelu ;

Ethiopians, as a culture and tradition, have ancient values, as our practice passed down from generation to generation, the guardianship of nature’s balance. They deeply understand the vitality of trees. For us Ethiopians, trees (in general) are not only the guardians of the environment but also the rectifiers of the environment. Instead, trees/plants are a source of healing for them; They are daily food. They are the plateau of peace and the border crossing.

Green development for food security…

Ethiopians are protecting the environment in general. It cures pain, and Our Food Guarantees It shadows of rest. They are the resources who have lived with us for centuries as our guardians of supplication and reconciliation. This is why the value of nurturing a tree sapling like a child among Ethiopians is being revealed from yesterday to today. Instead, trees/plants are a source of healing for us; They are daily food. They are the plateau of peace and the border crossing.

Planting and taking care of trees is not something that Ethiopians leave alone. From the leader to the ordinary people: The color counted, the color not counted, the farmer, the shepherd, the office worker, the woman, the man, the children, the elderly, the king, the queen, … all of them are considered to be self-work from the genius to the minute. Yesterday, it was done by the kings and, later, by the president. Even today, the Prime Minister’s great act of planting trees results from this.

However, let them say, “Mother’s belly rumbles.” As time passes and the world becomes more civilized, it is bound to forget the culture that lived, and the manners of the generation will be eroded. Because of this, Ethiopia is surrounded by nature on one side. On the other hand, the forest that was donated to her with the approval of her people started to be cut down and depleted by us Ethiopians.

As a result, the fertile Ethiopia lost its fertility and became destitute. She removed her forest cloak and exposed herself to the sun and heat. Its mountains, towers of water, are deprived of their rays and stripped of their shadow. The paradise of Ethiopia is turning into a desert. To be swept away by the flood, dust storm, Being struck by El Niño, and other conditions that confirm her victimization of climate change became her regular profile.

The arable and desert country is being hit by a drought-like 1977 that has been happening for decades and is starving millions of its citizens. It was her tribute to the death and exile of thousands. Later, the ten-year rainfall rate will decrease to five, two, and one year, which will be visited by drought. It has become a country that has led its citizens to humanitarian aid, prevented migration and displacement, and has been severely challenged by climate change.

“Green Legacy Initiative,” according to information published on the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development website, Ethiopia, home to 120 million people, is one of the countries that is frequently hit by drought.

According to the data, the country has become more vulnerable to climate change due to deforestation and environmental degradation. Due to the impact of climate change on the world, Ethiopia is increasingly prone to floods, droughts, and other natural disasters. As a result, agriculture, dependent on rain, has been severely tested.

However, the country is facing this problem. Because people don’t deserve to live in this test. Not only in terms of overcoming this problem but since adopting the UNFCCC in 1994, Ethiopia’s policy response to climate change has been growing.

Significantly, the Green Footprint Initiative/Program implemented in the last four years is meaningful work being done to overcome and solve the problem sustainably. This is an instructive activity that will be of great potential in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and in realizing the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

The Green Footprint Program has set three primary objectives for achieving this. The first is to enable damaged ecosystems to recover; the second is to increase Ethiopia’s forest cover by planting billions of saplings; reducing the impact of climate change is the third objective and goal of all these activities.

To achieve these three objectives, the Green Footprint program has been accompanied by results of planting 25 billion saplings in the first phase of the Green Footprint program. This joint project is trying to repeat this success in the second phase of the Green Footprint program.

Ethiopian green footprint

The Green Footprint Program, launched in the summer of 2011, set a goal of planting 20 billion saplings in four years. Unlike previous environmental protection activities, it was not a one-season planting campaign. During the reigns of Emperor Menilek and Emperor Haile Selassie, the leaders planted saplings. During the Derg era, the president of the kingdom, Haile Mariam, dreamed of a tree and created a forest. During the era of EPRDF, former Prime Ministers Meles Zenawi and Hailemariam Desalegn made their contributions.

However, none of these processes (especially during the era of EPRDF) had a public base that would bring about sustainable action beyond implementing the sapling program in a campaign. They have not abolished the tradition of planting trees. It can be said that they had no purpose other than completing the program. Because if a goal were set for them, they would reach the goal. If the people accepted them and made it their culture to plant saplings, they would have grown without being cut.

The 2011 Green Footprint program was different from these. Because Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Dr.), who owns the initiative, has led the work. They tirelessly planted and set an example for the people and made the people their owners. Above all, the program is not just a supplement to a plan; it is being done for a purpose, and it is possible to reveal and observe the four-year journey accompanied by results.

For example, the target was set to plant 20 billion saplings in the last four years (during the first phase of the Green Footprint program). However, the work is strictly disciplined, An uninterrupted way of working with the leader. With the help of the people’s positive thinking and participation, the four-year plan exceeded its goal and made it possible to plant 25 billion saplings.

These saplings, which were planted keeping in mind the local climate and other issues, were not planted and kept silent. As a result, the four-year work had an average pass rate of 85 percent. This happened not only with the tree seedlings planted. Because they created the idea of ownership, they are my wealth in every local community. This process of gaining public acceptance has become a new story in which more than 20 million people participated in one night and planted 350 million saplings in the first phase.

These four years were not the only ones that achieved more than planned. Instead, it was done with the intention that the seedlings to be planted would have a higher contribution than their environmental protection role. As a result, most of the seedlings planted have been made indigenous. More than 50% of the planted trees are edible tree species. Apart from this, some saplings were used for medicine, animal fodder, environmental beauty, and many others that were planted with attention.

In terms of environmental protection and the carbon market

Ethiopia is said to have had up to 40 percent forest cover nearly a century ago. Some cite information that due to the damage done to the forest by the citizens to meet their needs for building houses, firewood, lumber, and other wood products, agriculture, and the like, due to the increase in the population, the forest resources have declined up to three percent. As a result of the impact of world climate change combined with the depletion of forest resources, Ethiopia has been in a high crisis as a country, as stated in various events. This has been heard from the relevant parties on several occasions.

Ethiopians are aware of this forest depletion and the dangers happening as a country following it. I believe that this desolate area needs to be restored. On the one hand, to preserve forests that have survived damage. On the other hand, they have started to carry out plantation activities to enable them to recover the deprived areas.

In this way, they started implementing the sapling planting program at the individual, family, local, religious, and national levels. The Green Footprint program is the first example of this. In this way, they increased the forest cover from 3% to more than 15.5% (some data say more than 17%).

In practice, the plantation programs carried out this way have other benefits beyond increasing the forest cover. For example, environmental protection was given much attention in the work done to increase forest cover. This is not only for the forests to be cultivated, For the dry springs to return, and to restore eroded lands. Correcting air disturbances in areas affected by drought and floods has made it possible. Therefore, the task is to increase the forest cover. It also creates a great potential to protect the environment.

In addition to restoring degraded areas and protecting ecosystems, It also created an opportunity to generate income through carbon dioxide sequestered by forests made by the process or by existing dense forests. Allowing the carbon sales revenue obtained in this way to be used for additional environmental protection activities; On the other hand, it has made it possible to get initial results to ensure the benefit of the local community, which has a direct role in forest development.

For example, according to data released in 2013, through the reduction of pollutant gases and reduction of deforestation project (Red Plus), which has been implemented in Balena West RC dense forests, 5.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided by protecting 12 thousand 500 hectares of forest resources and more than 149 It was possible to earn more than one million birr from the sale of carbon.

In the same way, local farmers in the Humbo district of the Walayta zone benefited from the sale of carbon due to the trees they planted and maintained. Various data show that similar works are being done in other areas, and results are coming. Therefore, in this way, in increasing the forest cover, we must continue to strengthen this task, which allows us to improve our benefits while contributing to our role in protecting the environment and preventing the emission of polluting gas, which is a challenge to the world.

In terms of job creation and food security

One of the unique features of the implementation process of the Green Footprint program is that it is carried out as a public ownership and benefits center because they are focused on ensuring the people’s participation and benefits from the preparation of the seedlings and the multifaceted benefits of the seedlings and the seedlings.

For example, prepare seedlings for planting. Later, the planting holes should be dug and ready. And there are youths, women, and locals who do this. These residents were also able to get job opportunities and a source of income by participating in the process of preparing saplings and planting pits.

According to the data, many young people, especially women and mothers, have had job opportunities in the Green Footprint program in the past four years. It has also become a source of income for them. For example, 767,000 women and young people have job opportunities. It also enabled them to have a source of income.

In this way, the program goes beyond being a source of employment and income; It has contributed significantly to ensuring the citizens’ food security. This is because the seedlings prepared for planting include edible trees. Data shows up to 60 percent of the saplings planted under the Green Footprint Program are edible trees. Fruit trees like avocado, papaya, apple, and mango are mainly mentioned.

As in the preparation of seedlings, Citizens could also benefit from the trees planted and growing to fruit. One proof of this is that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Dr.) recently said, “There is a significant change in fruit cultivation. In this, we could see the farmers and the pastoral area achieving excellent results. I was recently in Nyangatom in the South Omo Zone, which is known for pastoralism. A few farmers have told me that if they planted papaya, they made a profit of more than 100,000 birr in just one season. That’s what they said.

Thus, the Green Footprint program has created job opportunities for citizens. It is worth noting that it has become a source of income and that food security work is helpful. Moreover, national values should be developed and maintained. To create generations inspired by this idea. Like the People’s Renaissance Dam, so that citizens have a joint national project, Even realizing that it is a program implemented with high diplomatic value by enhancing regional connectivity and cooperation. At the same time, it also requires ensuring participation.

In terms of sustainable development and economic development

Strengthening environmental protection, coping with climate change, increasing forest cover, freeing agriculture from rain dependence, and other green footprint programs are highly beneficial for Ethiopia’s economic growth and sustainable development. This is because the development and growth of Ethiopia is based on these conditions.

I say this not without reason. For example, the Prime Minister recently announced the plan to plant 500 million saplings overnight, enabling us to write a new history in the second phase of the Green Footprint Program. When he conveyed a message to the people, he said, A green footprint is not only a modification of today’s life but also a legacy for tomorrow’s generation.

A green footprint means a lot to us. It will increase our agricultural production and make us self-sufficient in food. It allows us to produce food two or three times more cheaply. It fills the rivers to their limits and ensures that irrigation and drinking water are not cut off. It increases the forest cover and adjusts the climate. It is what keeps our Renaissance Dam healthy.

It is the backbone of our national industrial revolution, which we started as Ethiopia Tamrat. It is capable of providing raw material input to our industries. Because our industries need trees to produce wood products, planting trees will allow us to cover them internally without importing timber for these inputs.

When this happens, we move to earning foreign currency instead of spending foreign currency. Because of the substitution of imported wood products in the country, avoiding foreign exchange, It also enables the transition to earning foreign exchange by exporting wood products.

Likewise, our Green Footprint program will give our agro-processing industries the inputs they need from avocados, papayas, mangoes, apples, and other fruit trees. In doing so, they create the capacity to import and export. For example, avocado has already visible beginnings (literally, with oil).

In addition to this, the Lemat legacy’s contribution to the green footprint program is also high. It contributes significantly to agriculture by protecting the environment, preventing soil erosion, maintaining a regular rainfall cycle, and increasing water resources. Apart from the excellent aroma and medicinal properties, the flowers of the trees create a very comfortable and suitable environment for beekeeping, which will end the direction of honey cultivation.

Therefore, the program has a significant role in building a higher national economy and making its growth sustainable. In particular, national values should be developed and maintained. To create generations inspired by this idea. For citizens to have a joint national project, Aberktom plays a vital role in diplomacy, even strengthening regional ties and cooperation.

According to the research published by the Ethiopian Economics Association entitled Green Legacy Initiative for Sustainable Economic Development in Ethiopia in February 2023, The program goes beyond increasing forest cover in Ethiopia, protecting the environment, and coping with climate change. The planted saplings have contributed significantly to food security, raw materials for industrial inputs, timber, and other activities that require wood products. In general, it plays an irreplaceable role in the success of the country’s agricultural and industrial development activities.

As the attached document explains, when society has an understanding of the multifaceted economic and sustainable development benefits of the green footprint program, A large number of people can participate in the program. It was possible because of this understanding and seeing the initial results confirming the benefits’ sustainability. This is being maintained, however, to enhance the work further, emphasizing participation and benefits. Linking public ownership with sustainable use is not only very important; The program will enable it to fulfill its role in the sustainable development and growth of the country.

The Green Footprint Program continues to be successful with its multifaceted economic benefits. Today (July 10, 2015), the second phase of the plan to write history by planting 500 million saplings in one night has been in a good position from the beginning. Therefore, the progress of planting 50 billion saplings, which will make Ethiopia green in the two phases, should be maintained.

In this regard, those who raise concerns about the program’s continuation will not disappear. These parties were not convinced by the successful journey of the last four years. Or they didn’t want to admit it. Instead, according to a study conducted by a group of scientists and published in the ‘Royal Society Journal,’ a project to cultivate forests in Asia failed to continue after five years. They try to confirm their illusion that Ethiopia’s Green Footprint program may face a similar problem.

However, there is one thing they don’t realize when they say this. They did not consider whether this was done in Asia or any other region, whether it was done by an owner or by mass travel. As I mentioned earlier in my introduction, to be a prelude to my article, they started and did not end in Ethiopia. Unfinished; many daily shows have begun a journey and have not reached their goal.

But the current Green Footprint program has an owner; He has a leader. It has a popular base and acceptance. There is a generation that wakes up to wear green about the country. In general, his work is relentlessly aggressive in front of the owner of the idea, the Prime Minister. The journey has been published by the people’s sincere hearts and is held in public without interruption. The application is traveling with the power of overcoming frustration.

Green Footprint program to restore yesterday’s identity. It is where the desire to restore the shade of trees, protect the forest ecosystem, the food and medicine of plants, the peace and mediation of trees, and the abundance of prayer has been turned into action.

The Green Footprint program is not like the previous one in fulfilling an international mission and getting support; It is a desperate struggle for self-reliance to cure the disease of drought, famine, displacement, and climate change caused by the depletion of forests as a country.

That is why, in the first year when the program started, on Green Footprint Day held on July 22, 2011, it was planned to plant 200 million saplings overnight, and 353.6 million saplings were planted. More than 23 million people could participate in this program because it had a public base from the beginning.

Weather resistance of the trip; Increasing forest cover and protecting ecosystems by restoring degraded areas; Ensuring food security and eliminating exploitation; To create job opportunities. Increasing earning potential: It is to return the medicinal, aromatic, and other high economic benefits of indigenous trees.