Desa’a Forest, Ethiopia
Reversing land degradation and poverty through forest landscape restoration
0 k ha
The Desa’a Forest is one of the oldest remaining dry afromontane forests in Ethiopia. Over 26 000 people live below the poverty line here, relying on the forest for water, energy and to feed their cattle. This ambitious, award-winning project aims to restore and protect arid afromontane and bring water back to this region, which is directly threatened by desertification coming from the north, and lift the rural communities out of extreme poverty.
Why and how we're working here
The Desa’a forest reserve is home to many threatened species, and plays an important role in climate adaptation and water supply in a region directly threatened by desertification from the north and east. Currently, 74% of the forest has disappeared and the remaining 26% is severely degraded.
The project's impact on
The project aims to build local capacity to hand management of the reserve over to the communities. A livelihood plan will alleviate the pressure on the forest resources by providing alternative sources of income from activities such as sustainable agriculture, agroforestry and beekeeping.
The immediate consequence of the desertification here is erosion of topsoil and the significant reduction of agricultural yields for smallholder farmers. Even more alarming is the possible long-term impact on local cloud formation and rainfall, causing more frequent droughts and food insecurity. © WeForest
WeForest has been working since 2016 to directly restore and protect nearly 40 000 ha of the forest through Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) and Enrichment Planting. © WeForest
We select species that serve multiple purposes in the forest and for the communities, generating a combination of social, economic and environmental benefits. Examples are olive (Olea europaeat), juniper (Juniperus procerat, pictured) and briar root (Erica arboreat), which are combined with different grass species for fodder and to reduce erosion. © WeForest
Soil and water conservation structures are built to reduce run-off and improve soil infiltration. © WeForest
By combining forest restoration with livelihood improvement programmes, we focus on improving natural resource governance and the socio-economic resilience of communities living in and around the forest, with a special focus on women, the landless, subsistence farmers and youth. © WeForest
Examples of income-generating activities are beekeeping, poultry, sheep, high-value trees and vegetable seeds, efficient cookstoves, solar lights and the employment of forest guards. The project also establishes and strengthens rural schools’ environmental clubs. © WeForest
The Nubian dragon tree, Dracaena ombet, is categorized as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. © WeForest