Exploring the ‘bird cave’
© WeForest
"Wof-Washa," known as the "bird cave", just 170 km northeast of Addis Ababa, is a natural treasure in Ethiopia.

This afromontane forest, perched between 1600 and 3700 meters above sea level, teems with unique flora and fauna such as the the gelada baboon (Theropithecus gelada, pictured), a species of Old World monkey found only in the Ethiopian Highlands. It also offers invaluable ecosystem services to the communities nearby, including sustenance, climate control and cultural significance.

Yet this forest faces an existential threat, besieged by intensive resource exploitation from these same communities. The relentless demand for its resources steadily erodes both its quality and quantity. Recognizing this dire situation, WeForest has embarked on a mission to protect, conserve, and rejuvenate this natural wonder through a comprehensive landscape restoration strategy.

The first crucial step in this endeavour is a meticulous vegetation baseline survey, aiming to understand the forest’s current state and identify the most suitable interventions. Armed with a high-resolution satellite map, trained teams ventured into the heart of the forest. They navigated through rugged terrain to gather essential data on tree height, diameter, soil conditions, and more in 70 systematically placed sample plots.

Despite facing challenging weather conditions, these dedicated teams persevered, completing two rounds of surveys. Their efforts have yielded a wealth of critical information, crucial for decision-making and the design of site-specific restoration approaches. Initial findings reveal a rich tapestry of 68 tree and shrub species, with notable species like Juniperus procera, Podocarpus falcatus, Olea europaea, Erica arborea and Pittosporum viridiflorum gracing the forest.

However, a shadow looms over this pristine environment, as natural regeneration struggles to match the might of the ancient trees. Nearly 34% of woody species face an alarming absence of natural regeneration. Livestock barns and illegal logging further compound the forest’s plight. This multifaceted onslaught demands immediate attention, as the forest’s very existence hangs in the balance.

The forest’s current status serves as a dire warning. Urgent and resolute ecological restoration efforts are imperative to stave off the impending ecological catastrophe. The time for action is now; we must act decisively to safeguard this invaluable natural treasure for generations to come.