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We travel to meet the people behind fascinating environmental, health and technological innovations in a bid for sustainable solutions to our changing world. Saturday at 6.10 pm.

DOWN TO EARTH

DOWN TO EARTH

Latest update : 2013-05-27

Ethiopia: Planting hope in trees

In the past half century, Ethiopia has ravaged more than 90 percent of its forests. Reforestation campaigns are now sowing new hope on the Ethiopian highlands. France 24 went out to Ethiopia to find out more.

For every tree that is planted in Ethiopia, dozens of others are cut down. The result is an arid landscape, prone to erosion and incapable of growing essential crops.

This week we head to Tigray, close to the border with Eritrea, where the situation is particularly dire. Tigray has recovered from the famine that devastated the region in the 1980s, but the threat of hunger is never far away. Today the locals have begun to realise that replanting trees is one of the keys to their survival. International organisations Green Ethiopia and the Yves Rocher Foundation have stepped in to help.

While 20 million trees have been planted here in the past 12 years, efforts have been jepoardised by a much more powerful enemy: the eucalypt. This species was imported from Australia more than a century ago. It's loved by the locals because it grows quickly, but for the native species it's a vampire tree that greedily sucks up all the water resources. Concerned biologists are urging Ethiopians to respect and nurture the local trees in a bid to preserve biodiversity here and across the Horn of Africa.

By Mairead DUNDAS , Marina BERTSCH

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