In Machakel wereda, a mere 8.61% of the land area is covered by forest. Here, villagers are at the heart of our restoration efforts, which take a holistic approach to tackle environmental threats and promote the resilience of local people. The strategy for combatting the environmental threats involves planting indigenous trees on community land, gullies, river banks and farmland with the potential for assisted natural regeneration in the future, and planting fruit and timber trees on farms. The project encompasses a strong training component so that local communities will have the capacity to take the future of their forests into their own hands.
The Hunger Project
Restore native forest
Restore degraded lands
Promote economic development
Increase food security
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Why is intervention needed?
Amhara has born the brunt of Ethiopia’s deforestation where an estimated 140,000 ha per year are cut. The high level of deforestation is a result of the combined effects of rural land use and poverty. With 85% of the population of Ethiopia engaged in agriculture, there has been high conversion of forest to agriculture and, combined with the charcoal and fuelwood trade and timber harvesting for construction, this has caused widespread deforestation. As a result of forest clearance and poor land management, extensive erosion and gully formation have left soil fertility in decline. Local communities now struggle to grow crops and raise livestock.
Trees are grown at community driven nurseries, with a preference for native species, to plant in degraded lands, farmland and grazing land. Planting takes place alongside soil restoration activities. On farmland and grazing land, animal grazing is controlled through the creation of no go zones to protect the growing forest. The top drivers of deforestation are addressed through the production of more efficient cooking stoves to reduce charcoal consumption and the promotion of brick production to replace timber construction. The planting of native species provides important benefits for biodiversity conservation where deforestation threatens the survival of native species. The restoration efforts carry a beekeeping component which will promote pollination of the growing plants.
Planting trees on farmland and grazing land serves to increase food security and diversity while restoration efforts increase the land’s productivity for communities. Farmers are empowered to incorporate trees, such as fruit trees, into their farming systems. These forest products can be used by the farmers themselves or sold locally. The project provides opportunities for local communities to diversify their income streams through the integration of sustainable livelihood elements and lifestyle changes, reducing pressure on forests. Beekeeping provides opportunities for honey production, while other economic activities, such as brick production and the production of fuel-efficient cooking stoves, directly tackle the drivers of deforestation. There is a strong preference for the engagement of women and less economically dominant groups to ensure the project benefits are felt throughout the community. Through an innovative "train the trainer model" the project promotes local capacity building to secure a self-sustaining forest based economy. Locals known as animators are trained with the intention of providing further training to more individuals. Each animator is trained in a specialised topic such as seed collection, propagation, nursery management, tree planting, forest management and sustainable harvesting of non-timber forest products to train more farmers in these areas.