Ethiopia's forest cover triples: ministry

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The Independent Online

The total forest cover of Ethiopia has tripled in size since 2000 as a result of large-scale reforestation campaigns, the authorities announced on Thursday.

The impoverished Horn of Africa nation, which suffered from chronic droughts and famine in the past, has in recent years undertaken massive tree-planting campaigns to help reduce land degradation and improve its biodiversity.

"Ethiopia was able to increase its forest coverage to nine percent now from only three percent previously," the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

"The increase... is attributed to the forestation campaign launched all over the country since the last decade," it added.

Ethiopia covers 1.1 million square kilometres and is sub-Saharan Africa's second most populous country.

"River basin-based... conservation activity carried out in the last 10 years is the major factor for the ... increase in forest coverage," the ministry said.

Ethiopia planted more than 700 million trees in 2007 alone, according to the UN, besting Mexico which planted 217 million and the rest of the world in a drive to combat climate change through new lush forest projects.

The country's high demand for fuel wood and land for cropping and grazing had slashed its forest cover from about 35 percent of its territory in the early 20th century to just three percent by 2000, environmentalists say.

Experts say trees help absorb carbon contained in the heat-trapping gases blamed for climate change.